Thomas Tuchel feels there were plenty of positives to take from our 2-2 friendly draw with Tottenham Hotspur having been pleased with the intensity of the game.
The last of our pre-season matches before the competitive action begins saw us hosting London rivals Spurs at Stamford Bridge in the second of our Mind Series fixtures, in front of a vocal crowd of Chelsea supporters watching without the need for social distancing for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our head coach felt that combination of the atmosphere inside the stadium and a derby match, in addition to the performance of a certain Frenchman in our midfield, helped make for a highly competitive game, despite there being no points on the line.
‘The game was very intense, you could feel the impact of the supporters,’ said Tuchel. ‘It did not feel like a friendly match at all for the first 25 minutes, then the game had a little drop in intensity, and then in the last 15 minutes of the first half, with every ball win from N’Golo Kante there was another chance to accelerate the game.’
We dominated much of the match and took a two-goal lead through Hakim Ziyech’s brace, before Tottenham fought back to secure a draw at the Bridge following a number of Chelsea substitutions, as Tuchel tried to share the minutes among as many players as possible before the start of the season.
Given our performance, he feels we deserved more than a draw from the game, but was still pleased by plenty of what he saw from his team.
‘We should have won. I’m very happy with the first 60 minutes, we started very well. We had active ball recoveries, we created good chances, we had good control of the ball, good defending spirit, so for 60 minutes I was very happy.
‘Then we had a lot of changes and unfortunately two big individual mistakes and the opponent Tottenham was very efficient to use them and take away a draw. It’s always also about the result, but I think today there are a lot of positive things for us to take from this match.’
While those second-half substitutions may have disrupted our rhythm and allowed Tottenham to recover their footing, Tuchel was pleased to have had the opportunity to give those players time on the pitch to impress and improve their fitness.
That is especially true for the youngest Chelsea player on the pitch, Tino Anjorin, who the German says we would have seen a lot more of recently if he hadn’t missed much of our pre-season while suffering from Covid-19.
‘I’m a bit sad because he trained so well for us in the last half a year and then the race for the top four was on and there was so many decisive matches every three days, so there was not actually the moment to try stuff with young players,' explained Tuchel.
‘But he showed his quality in every training, so when the season ended we both agreed that he stays for pre-season and he will get his minutes that he deserves. Unfortunately, before the first friendly starts, Tino was the guy to catch the Covid virus and really suffered for 10 to 12 days. You could see it today, which was the first time he could be back on the pitch, and it was quite a lot for him to stand the 30 minutes. So he was very unlucky without having any fault in the situation.
‘Honestly, I cannot really judge him on what I saw today because I think he still struggles from his illness. He had some trouble to adapt to the intensity today, but in the first five or 10 minutes when he started it was very promising again. He’s confident, he’s strong, he’s creative. He scores a lot of goals and assists a lot of goals in training, but I wish we would have had the chance to see him against Peterborough, against Bournemouth, against Arsenal, so that he could really make a statement.’