Tuchel: We want to give them a taste of their own medicine

Thomas Tuchel knows exactly what to expect from Southampton and their coach Ralph Hasenhuttl but is hoping to beat them at their own game at Stamford Bridge.

We host the Saints in SW6 on Saturday afternoon as we look to return to winning ways in our last Premier League fixture before the international break, following back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Manchester City and Juventus.

Southampton are led by their own former Bundesliga coach in Ralph Hasenhuttl, who Tuchel knows well from their many matches against each other in Germany and elsewhere, and the Blues boss is expecting to see more of his opposite number’s trademark brand of football this weekend.

‘We meet each other now regularly because we played against each other in the Bundesliga and now here and we met once in Paris for some days, we meet of course in coaches’ meetings. He’s a very friendly, very nice guy, very humble, very entertaining also, a very funny guy,’ explained Tuchel.

‘The teams he trains have always the same philosophy. It’s high intensity, it’s very aggressive, it’s about ball recoveries and this is on a very high level. They have a very fast team, a very aggressive team, they had good results against both Manchester teams, so this is what we are expecting, a good team with a good coach and a nice guy, but that does not count for 90 minutes.’

However, Tuchel is up for the challenge of facing Southampton’s distinctive style of energetic, pressing football, and acknowledges there are plenty of options available to counter those tactics, in addition to hoping to give the visitors some problems with our own pressing.

‘We have developed some ideas and some solutions of course to deal with this high pressure. In general you need to be absolutely aware of it. You don’t have time to think when you’re on the ball, we need to anticipate situations, we need to be very good in the timing and distance of our passing, if we want to escape high pressure in our own half.

‘It can also be a possibility to use long balls to escape high pressing, but then you need to have a good position before. The most important thing is that we are aware and that we don’t judge teams by their name or their ranking or their previous results, but we talk about what we see and their behaviour and we need to be aware of an aggressive and an intense team.

‘We want to also have the answer to the pressing from Southampton with counter-pressing and to give them a taste of their own medicine, also because it is a part of our game.’

There could also be a familiar name in the Southampton line-up on Saturday, with young right-back Tino Livramento becoming a regular in their team after leaving Chelsea over the summer. Tuchel, who named Livramento on the bench twice in the Premier League last season, explained the club saw his potential, but ultimately respected the player’s wish to move on.

‘He was highly rated, we did everything to keep him here, to show him his future and his possibilities to compete also for a position in our team. He decided to go, that’s his decision, sometimes you have to accept it, there are no hard feelings.

‘He was of course competing with Reece James and Azpi in the right wing-back position. I think it was an ideal position for him to fight and the group is not too big so there was a big chance also to make it all the way.

‘If Tino decided to go, it’s fair enough, he does very well, we wish him all the best. Of course we saw the potential, he decided to go another way and fight for his place in Southampton and that’s how the business is.’

Focusing on our own team going into this fixture, our head coach also explained why the job of integrating Romelu Lukaku into this Blues side is an ongoing process, after we struggled to supply him with chances in our last two matches, despite the Belgian scoring four goals in his first four matches following his return to west London.

‘He was fully involved in the very first game against Arsenal and also if you look at the second half against Tottenham he was involved in chances, in assisting for Timo Werner, in the first half in connection with Mason Mount.

‘Football right now is about connections and with Romelu I feel a strong connection with Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic, they look for each other and have an understanding. Everybody else lacks it a little bit and we need to learn, we need to adapt, we need to create and understand each other better.

‘We had games where we was fully involved, now we had games like against Manchester City where of course he was isolated, Manchester City made him be isolated and our build-up play and our transition made him be isolated. There will always be matches like this where there is no place to go, no way to be involved. It is nothing major to be worried about but we are aware of it.’

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