Another Carabao Cup tie that went all the way left Thomas Tuchel satisfied with the performance and the outcome, although the boss also reported three of his players succumbed to injured yesterday.
In his analysis of the 1-1 draw and subsequent penalty shoot-out success over Southampton that mirrored the Aston Villa third round tie in this competition, Tuchel acknowledged he had to field something of a makeshift XI because of disruption in the build-up to the fixture. He was heartened by the way his players dealt with that unfamiliarity in the face of strong Premier League opposition.
‘We were expecting it to be difficult,’ said Tuchel.
‘We had some last-minute changes. Three potential starters got injured in training yesterday. It was not planned like this, so we had not so many options from the bench to not overuse players.
‘We knew it was the first time we played together in this selection and we knew it would be tough against a team that put so much pressure on you. That’s the way it was.
‘It was a nice match of football from both teams, a really tough match, and in the end we are happy to win the penalty shoot-out.
‘When you play Southampton you know what you get, intensity, high pressing, a team full of courage and speed,’ he added.
‘It’s their identity. You have to accept things get tough, and the challenges are constantly there. That’s why I am happy with the performance and the result.’
‘We hope Azpi is back for the weekend. He had a shoulder injury yesterday in training when he fell on it. It’s very painful but he’s Azpi and he’s a tough guy.
‘Ruben felt after training some pain in his hip joint. Hopefully we can handle it for Saturday.
‘Andreas needed to recover from tooth surgery and he should be back in training on Thursday if there are no complications.’
Kepa made another stop in the shoot-out, his eighth in a Chelsea shirt, to help us prevail on penalties for the third time this season.
‘He produces. He is full of confidence. He has this experience now with us, and he has done it again and again.
‘Just because you win a penalty shoot-out, does not mean you will do it again. Full credit to him. It’s a special thing in football and we were again concentrated and calm. Kepa was a big part of that.’
Tuchel was also asked how important the Carabao Cup was to him in the ranking of trophies we could win this season.
‘Every competition is important,’ he replied.
‘We don’t want to judge them. When we prepare for matches and wear the shirt, we play all in. That’s what this club and the players are all about. The players who got a chance used it.’