Against Liverpool the Blues surpassed expectations with a performance that ended on a 1-1 draw, but could very well be a win had Chelsea been more clinical. Again West Ham the Blues were more or less level with the expectations of a rebuilding team, taking a 3-1 loss that could very well be a win had Chelsea been more clinical and less nervy.
It is only the beginning of manager Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure but a loss to West Ham in the most Moyesian way possible is never an easy pill to swallow. We can still choose between looking only at the positives, at the negatives or in-between the two. Poch has certainly chosen the first.
“It’s a concern that the results haven’t followed the performance. But if we played bad but won the games I think we should be more worried because then it’s only time until you start to lose games and then you need to find a way to perform.
“I prefer to start in this way, showing good performance, good attitude, because we dominated Liverpool and West Ham. I think the attitude is there, to get in the final third 50 times today shows the attitude is good and against Liverpool it was the same.
“That is the base for the future, with the quality we have in the squad it is only time until we start to find the best balance and we start to score goals and win games.”
Pochettino was well aware of the dangers West Ham brought to Chelsea, and thus it’s no wonder he chose to go to West London with the best setup he could muster in terms of aerial ability. Nevertheless James Ward-Prowse and Nayef Aguerd found a way to breach us really early in the game, which was everything they wanted to muddy our waters.
Something similar took place in the second half, only this time with the ball on the ground and Michail Antonio finding the back of the net after a chain of defensive mistakes by the Blues. But we can see these mishaps as part of a process that includes finding our best ways to approach games like these, and gelling a young squad that has little to no experience playing together and facing these kind of challenges on the regular.
“I was a little bit upset about the start of the game because we conceded a few situations that we were aware of the dangers of West Ham and we gave them the possibility to score. From the beginning also of the second half we started late, trying to find the way to play after changing Carney for Mykhailo and they found the second goal and that helped West Ham really believe in the result.
“For us it was about situations that we rushed too much. We need to be more patient and to really open the pitch. But when we see the data, I think in the last third we had maybe 50 entries which was amazing, but we were not clinical enough to score for different reasons.
“So I’m disappointed but that is the process. We need to accept the defeat and we need to keep working. For sure when things are more settled in the team we are going to perform and then we are going to win games.”
One moment that can summarise Chelsea’s performance and result today is Enzo Fernández’s missed penalty in the first half, which would put us in a 2-1 lead had it been converted. The Argentinian midfielder was really unfortunate in his penalty taking, making Alphonse Aréola’s job rather easy with his attempt.
Those defining moments are not unavoidable, and losses will still happen. What matters is rather how the team respond to these losses.
“If we had scored the penalty that we missed and went to half-time at 2-1, maybe we are not talking about a different game, but we are talking about a different situation. That is football and we have to accept that, sometimes it happens, and more in the beginning of the season, because there are still things to improve. But it is not an excuse.
“I said it after Liverpool and it is still the same, we are really excited about the squad we are building. It is a defeat that is only going to make us stronger so we are able to perform better in the next games. Now we need to move on, there were many positive things. Not the result, but we will work really hard to win on Friday and get the performance that we want to.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; Source: Chelsea FC
We can certainly dwell on individual and collective performances today and ignore all the caveats that come from a rebuilding job that looks promising on paper. In practice, no rebuild will be an easy task. With hope, we will sooner rather than later look back at these moments and shrug them off as we look at a cabinet full of brand new silverware in front of us.