Having seen his side held to a 0-0 draw by Brighton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening, Thomas Tuchel certainly had no complaints about the result and pointed to tiredness as a factor in the below-par performance.
This return to Premier League action came after two big challenges in cup competitions in the previous week, both successful, as we knocked Porto out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage and eliminated Manchester City in the FA Cup semis.
That took its toll and produced a stalemate against a Brighton side who have defended well this season. Between them, the two sides managed six shots on target in today’s game, four of them by Chelsea, although the visitors to Stamford Bridge came closer to scoring when Danny Welbeck hit the post in the second half.
Verdict on visitors
‘Brighton were very strong,’ acknowledged Tuchel afterwards. ‘I know that they are a very underrated team because they deserve a lot more points than they have and they have a lot of individual quality.
‘They have a very unique style of playing which makes it difficult to create chances, they defend very strong, almost man-mark over the whole pitch, and that created a lot of problems for us and we could not find the answers to it.
‘We were not good enough in counter movements, we were not decisive enough in one-touch football,’ he listed. ‘We were not precise enough after ball losses and we know that we did not create many moments in counter-pressing and that is why it was a tough match.
‘We seemed a bit tired mentally and physically, we could not find the rhythm that we normally play and it was also credit for Brighton for a very strong defensive performance. At the end we had two or three big mistakes in the build-up and could even lose the game, so we have to accept it and keep on going.’
Clear target and changes made
Not that our head coach is accepting a draw as a good result.
‘I feel that I will never be pleased with a point at Stamford Bridge,’ he was quick to point out.
‘It is clearly our target to win the home matches, even if we knew it was a tough one.
‘I was a bit concerned about the physical impact of travelling after Porto and of Man City, but we decided to let the team play with not so many changes between Porto and Man City. Today we had enough changes [five to the starting line-up] I thought to be a bit more fresh but maybe we lacked one day.
‘It is a big difference if you have two days between matches and three. Maybe we lacked one day to be a bit more relaxed, to be a bit more fresh, but we have to admit also that it was a huge distraction since two days, it was not the full focus on our game which maybe also plays a role in all this, so maybe given all the circumstances, we are clearly not happy but I have to accept that we did not deserve more today, which is maybe for the first time.’
The result leaves us in fourth place in the Premier League, with the same points and the same games played as West Ham a place below. We make the trip across London to take on the Irons on Saturday in an important derby.
‘Tomorrow is a well-deserved day off and then we will prepare the West Ham game,’ said Tuchel.
‘After we have a couple nights to sleep we will see that we are in fourth place and it is in our hands, and it is a tight race. We missed now two opportunities in home matches, this worries me a little bit. but we have to keep on going.’