There was disappointment and frustration in Thomas Tuchel’s post-match reflections as he assessed our defeat at the hands of Arsenal by citing a lack of energy, intensity and concentration from his team.
The Blues were beaten courtesy of Emile Smith Rowe’s early opener as Arsenal capitalised on a mix-up between Jorginho and Kepa Arrizabalaga in possession, leading to a difficult evening for the west Londoners.
Christian Pulisic had a goal disallowed before both Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud rattled the crossbar within seconds of each other, the French duo’s frustration encapsulating the feelings of everyone in blue.
After the game, Tuchel admitted his seven changes to the line-up from our weekend win at Manchester City may have been too many and took responsibility for that.
‘We all lacked concentration and focus today, which is very unusual,’ he said. ‘Maybe I also gave some signals to the team with the changes that Saturday [FA Cup final] is on my mind, and even if it’s only one per cent, this is not how we approach things because you get punished.
‘We cannot be naive in this race for top four so now we suffer from another defeat. It’s hard to swallow but there’s no other way.’
Arsenal’s gifted goal and an early spurned chance from Kai Havertz were also on the boss’s mind…
‘It’s totally our fault, nobody else’s, it’s totally our responsibility. We had huge chances, we made more or less an own goal, a total gift and we could not score from our biggest chances, but overall we were not sharp enough.
‘It was not easy to come up with a big intensity in passing because they defended 5-4-1 very deep all around the box but we were not sharp enough and did not have the same energy, hunger or attitude as usual.
‘We could not put up the same intensity and energy as usual so maybe it was too many changes from the last match and I take full responsibility also for that. Maybe it’s the last wake-up call for all of us.’
Tuchel confirmed Billy Gilmour’s half-time withdrawal had been a tactical change…
‘We put Mason there because we saw they defended so deep and we wanted Mason, who has a better shot from 20 metres, to maybe be more dangerous from distance and have an offensive player like Mason there.
‘So it was not because Billy was bad, it was a tactical change to try to put more offensive power there. We lacked N’Golo [Kante] and Kova [Kovacic] in midfield today and this is huge for us. It’s not fair to put it all on Billy’s shoulders but he did okay, after a fantastic match against City. He was by far not the problem.’
There was also confirmation on who would start in goal at Wembley on Saturday…
‘We thought it was a good idea to give him the game before because first of all we trust him and he deserves it. That is the basis that we put him in the line-up.
‘He is so close and so good in training that we wanted to give him some minutes and to take both games together. It was an unlucky night for him as well.’
Tuchel finished by assessing the race for the top four as things stand…
‘It’s always a big fight. It never felt like a relief and if anybody felt like that then today maybe is the last lesson. It was another chance missed but it’s still in our hands. We had some good results so we have to cope now with a loss.
‘It’s not about the schedule. We had three days, we are on a good run and we had a good mood, but the choices were not so good today from my side for the line-up and so this is on me. We were unlucky of course but you can lose these games in football and we did everything today to lose.’