Thomas Tuchel saw his side improve as the game against Manchester United went on and even if we couldn’t take one of the few clear chances that came our way, he was still satisfied with the manner of the performance.
It was a second 0-0 between the Blues and the Red Devils this season but developed with more intensity and openings than the first at Old Trafford in October. Tuchel started with his overall analysis before looking at the bigger picture and providing squad news…
‘In general, this was a high-level game between two very good teams,’ he said.
‘It was a very intense start. We had some difficulties escaping the pressure in the first half. They tried to press us very high, we had some easy ball losses in midfield when we could have escaped the pressure. We lost our confidence a bit but at the same time we didn’t allow chances. We defended very well.
‘Second half, we chose a different structure to be a bit more aggressive high up the pitch with ball recoveries and higher pressing. The team did this very well and I liked the second half a lot. It was a top performance live on the sideline.
‘It was very encouraging defending from the wide positions against Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, so I have the feeling we deserved to win. On this level little details decide, and you have to take your chances. There was not many, two should be enough, but in the end we accept it. It’s a clean sheet and a strong second-half performance with energy and courage.’
The draw leaves us a point outside the top four
‘It would have been a big result. We tried everything to win, to be prepared for no other intention but to win. We are in the middle of a battle to the top four. We have closed the gap quickly and now is the moment to hang in and to show performances every three or four days.
‘I feel the team is very competitive and difficult to play against. We will be able to win games. We are still in the battle and that’s the good news.’
Tuchel explained why Callum Hudson-Odoi came off at half-time
‘He was a little bit injured, and it was a tactical reason, so a combination of both. We switched to a back five in defence and covered the wide position from Rashford in between Azpi and Reecey.
‘That was not an option to use Callum there, and that’s why it was a tactical choice.’
Tammy Abraham was not in the 18 today
‘It was about judging all the alternatives we had. We opted for Oli to begin, with Timo on the bench. We had Kai who can play as a number nine. Things are a bit difficult for him, not as easy as they should be, it’s not his fault and he will get our full support, it’s just a decision.
‘He has to do what he does, train well and be in a good mood, and accept he’s a striker for Chelsea so the competition is almost the highest competition. This is what you sign up for, these moments arrive. There is no other answer to accept it and be there tomorrow to fight for his place. I’m sure he will do it.
‘We have a strong squad. We have only Thiago Silva injured. It means you have to take hard decisions. You can only nominate 18 players. It was also a hard decision for Billy Gilmour, because he played very well in the Cup, and has been very strong in training.’
Tuchel gave his verdict on the decision not to award Man United a first-half spot-kick
‘For me it was no penalty. I was surprised and I’m still surprised [at the reaction]. I didn’t see it live where the penalty should come from, and when we checked on the pictures we have I couldn’t see any incident that should qualify as a penalty. Until now I don’t know why it should be a penalty.’