There was frustration but ultimately celebration for Thomas Tuchel and his players at a rain-drenched Stamford Bridge as two late goals secured a return to winning ways for the Blues in the Premier League.
Chelsea and Southampton served up an entertaining contest in south-west London, aided by the regular intervention of VAR, as goals from Trevoh Chalobah, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell sent the Blues to the top of the table.
Afterwards, Tuchel reflected on his happiness for Werner and substitute Ross Barkley, as well as his disappointment at two disallowed goals for his side, but the German started with an assessment on his team’s performance.
‘This was absolutely a deserved win,’ he stated confidently. ‘It was a good victory and it was an entertaining game of football because Southampton were also strong. In my opinion, we did everything to deserve the win.
‘We scored some late goals and really we could have won the game a lot earlier. We had some chances in the first half that we either didn’t take or were disallowed and this is how it is but overall we deserved to win.’
Tuchel was less enamoured with Werner’s disallowed goal in the first half…
‘I was not frustrated to only be winning 1-0, I was more frustrated to have the second goal taken away from us for almost no reason. If you score a second before half-time, you probably see the game off but at only 1-0, there is a danger they can come back into it.
‘I did not see it as a foul from Azpi. We had talks here before the season where everybody said we want to go back to “English football” and not give fouls all the time for soft touches.
‘It was raining, people were slipping and the passage of play had moved onto into a second and third phase before the goal so that’s why I was frustrated because we went back to something that was not the decisive action for the goal. I have zero understanding of why this goal was disallowed.’
The boss had words of praise for Werner’s individual display…
‘I’m happy for Timo and I’m happy for the team. There was some relief when he scored for sure because it was 1-1 at the time with not too long to go and we came into the game off the back of two defeats.
‘It was a fantastic goal and he was there in the right position, which he needs to be as a striker. We have the feeling that every time he scores there is some VAR decision going on to take it away from him and very narrow decisions.
‘I remember one against Liverpool that was super close but he has to keep on going. He still can improve his game but we are happy and relieved that he scored in the late minutes of this game because it was a very important goal for us to secure the win and he was where he needed to be.’
Barkley came off the bench and played a decisive pass for Werner’s goal, while Loftus-Cheek featured from the start…
‘I’m also happy for Ross, who came on did what he had to do. He played a fantastic pass for Azpi in the build-up, he won some free-kicks and he did well in an open game. He found some spaces, he plays with a good energy and his delivery was excellence.
‘He had a very good situation already in Juventus where he delivered the pass to Romelu for our biggest chance in the game and he had a good match in the Carabao Cup.
‘Ruben and Ross at the moment feel no pressure because they are happy to have these chances and feel the support and maybe they could not have imagined six weeks ago they would be in a position where they actually get important minutes. They can help us because they have this totally positive spirit and they don’t feel the pressure.'
Finally, the boss discussed his in-game changes, notably his decision not to use either Hakim Ziyech or Kai Havertz from the bench…
‘We always try to do our best to bring the players to the best shape but at some point after a lot of chances we have to admit that Kai and Hakim are not in their very best shape. It’s maybe not even their fault but they struggle at the moment to be decisive.
‘We had a period after pre-season when they were very decisive for us but they lost a bit of belief or confidence maybe. We will not stop pushing them, nobody is angry or has major concerns but we have to pay attention to form because we need to win games.’