Tuchel: How Blues can defend better

As the analysis of the Arsenal defeat continues with the aim of being better in another home London derby on Sunday, Thomas Tuchel has cleared his players of taking unnecessary risks as the goals have gone in at the wrong end, although individual mistakes remain culpable.

The Blues go head to head with West Ham tomorrow, hoping to steady our form at Stamford Bridge after three consecutive defeats there. We have a five-point lead and a game in hand over Tottenham and Arsenal below us in the Premier League table, but cannot afford continued slip-ups.

The 4-2 loss to the Gunners followed a strong response after our home defeats against Brentford and Real Madrid, with good wins at Southampton and at Wembley against Crystal Palace either side of an away victory in Spain. Despite the latest setback midweek, Tuchel believes hunger to succeed should outweigh fear of failure.

‘I'm worried about the amount of mistakes of course,’ he added. ‘In the Arsenal game the goals we concede are strange and we concede far more than we allow in expected goals against us since the international break.

‘In 2022 we’ve had already eight big mistakes that led to goals and this is very untypical. Or maybe it is now typical for us, but it is strange.

‘It costs us a lot because it not only costs you a goal for the other side, it costs you self-confidence and belief in what you're doing. Edou [Mendy] knows that he can do better against Real Madrid and he normally does better. Andreas [Christensen] knows that it's the right decision to play the ball back. It’s not that we take crazy risks in situations and that's why it's really hard to analyse.

‘I would be more happy if we take risks in situations where it's not allowed. Then we can talk about this to the players, that we've been crazy dribbling or had crazy decisions where we should not do it, but actually the decisions are okay.

‘If you look at the third goal [conceded against Arsenal], we lose the ball, okay, and they have a counter-attack but then we win it with Thiago, and then we give it back with Malang and then we have it again with Malang and N’Golo Kante and in the end it’s in the goal. It's very strange and awkward but sometimes you have to maybe just accept it and it's unexplained.’

While acknowledging there can be a difference in how players approach games in different competitions and different situations, Tuchel will not accept any drop off in effort, and says it is up to him push the squad to be as ready as possible in any situation.

‘It’s human to be tired, it's human to be a bit more alert if it's a knockout game than in a normal match,’ he said.

‘It's okay to feel less tension before a normal match in the Premier League than if you go to the Bernabeu. It's normal because it’s maybe less tension and it's less excitement and it's less pressure, but it cannot lead to having less investment. This can never happen. We cannot run more against Madrid or have more sprints or more effort.’

However the boss is satisfied that when a drop off in application occurred in the Brentford and Real games at the Bridge, it was addressed suitably, as seen by the three performances and results that followed and the data on physical performance that was studied. He does not think those previous failings at home reoccurred in the same way against Arsenal.

‘That's why it's tough to really understand the reason why,’ he admits, before explaining one defensive shortcoming.

‘It's a mix of big individual error and a lack of commitment in one-on-one defending and we have proof for it and the players know it and see it.

‘We have to defend with more consequence in and around the box. You can do it to a certain point with structure and with closing spaces, but you arrive in the last 20 metres at a moment where you need to take care about your individual challenge. We were not good enough in the game against Arsenal to do this.

‘Okay, there are also reasons for it. We had to change in the back three, we had some changes in the formation, but still we can do better, we should do better.’

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