Having seen a run of five straight wins come to an end but his unbeaten start as Chelsea boss continue with Saturday lunchtime’s 1-1 draw at Southampton, it is the sharpness needed to score enough goals to win while keeping it tight at the back that was the subject of much of Thomas Tuchel’s analysis after the game.
His side went behind for the first time in the seven matches he has been in charge when the Saints scored on the counter-attack in the first half. A Mason Mount penalty in the second half claimed a point.
Despite conceding the first goal scored by an opposition player in all those games, Tuchel was content with the Chelsea play at St Mary’s apart from our work in or around the opposition penalty area.
‘We created a lot of opportunities that did not become opportunities,’ he said regretfully.
‘We opened a lot of space for our attackers and for the last passes but the decision-making and the determination and the timing was not good enough to create more chances and be more decisive. We needed a penalty to score.
‘In the second half we had more touches in the box but we when we created something we lacked precision to finish it. We lacked composure and we could not win the decisive one-on-ones.
‘In the first 80 metres we did not allow any counter-attacks or difficult situations apart from once when they scored. The last 20 metres were not good enough for us.’
In an attempt to improve the attacking play, Callum Hudson-Odoi was brought on at half-time in place of Tammy Abraham to join up with Mount and Timo Werner upfront but after just 30 minutes on the pitch he was substituted himself. Tuchel confirmed no injury was involved.
‘In a game when it is hard to create chances you need to rely on counter-pressing to force errors and get the second ball and get an easy chance,’ Tuchel explained. ‘For that you need to be totally on and totally sharp for counter-pressing and I did not feel that from Callum today. He missed some opportunities for counter-pressing, he lost some easy balls. I had the feeling he was never really into the game.
‘You know I trust him a lot because he plays every game. Today I was close to him and maybe it was even unfair but I didn’t get the feeling from him today that he could be decisive. It was a hard decision but it will not stick between us or stick for long. Tomorrow it is forgotten and we prepare for Atletico.
‘I take decisions to win games,’ the boss continued, ‘and it is not a problem that he makes mistake or he misses but we cannot lack energy.
‘I know what he can give and that is why I trust him a lot and that will not change, but he knows exactly what I demand from him.
‘It is not the worst thing that can happen, he could start against Atletico but he needs to be reliable and this is the next step for him. He has trouble when he comes from the bench, it was like this against Sheffield United and it was again today. It is on him to improve because we need him sometimes from the bench. He has to accept it and learn from it.’
Returning to the team in general, Tuchel accepts there is work needed to score more goals.
‘The structure is never the problem and the structure is never the solution, it is always the input of the players. The structure is fluid, in different structures you find different spaces.
‘We think day and night about scoring and creating chances. The statistics from the last matches show we don’t score enough for the amount of touches in the box and for the amount of shots and for the amount of creating.
‘It is a lack of precision, not a lack of opportunities. It is the quality in decision-making. Today in the last 20 metres I did not feel that we could finish the game when it is there to be done. We have to analyse this and it is my job to create more big chances.’