After his players showed they had taken on board discussions since losing heavily at home to Brentford and Real Madrid, and lessons learned from those defeats, Thomas Tuchel was understandably pleased with the 6-0 victory over Southampton on Saturday, and especially with the way they went about achieving it.
It is our biggest winning margin since Norwich were defeated 7-0 back in October and was built upon an excellent start, with attack after attack from the off and three goals in the first quarter of the game.Describing it as a very good performance both offensively and defensively, Tuchel highlighted the high percentage of challenges won.‘It was key to this performance because it's not only a passing game, it's not only a possession game against Southampton, it's also about winning the duels and accepting the physicality. By winning the challenges, we had chances to be dangerous through offensive transition, and not only through ball possession,’ he said.‘That was a good mix in all areas of the pitch. We were strong in counter-attacking and in possession very focused.’
Contrasting this big win with a clean sheet with the previous two results, the boss said:‘I think it tells us that we are not a team to escape with results if our input is only 80 to 90 per cent of our energy, commitment and investment. We are a special group when we have the priorities right - if we are committed, if we defend with courage, if we have the hunger and attitude right in challenges. This is our foundation to then show the quality and that we are a strong group and this is a special group of players.‘There are some reasons why it's not always easy for us to have this hunger and the commitment and the physical input, because we come from an awful lot of matches. That's why it's not always easy, but this is the reality, we need it, and it’s not about blaming the players. I can understand there a lot of reasons why it was hard for us after the international break. It just proves the point again today that if we have this right we show our quality.’Having started Timo Werner against Brentford but then left him on the bench midweek against Real, Tuchel restored him to the side today. The striker responded with two goals as well as hitting the woodwork three times.
‘We decided to play with two strikers, it was his favourite position against an opponent where we knew they would press high,’ noted Tuchel. ‘The connection was amazing with Kai and Mason and Kova. He loves to play with them and it was an opponent where we could imagine finding spaces in behind because it's a higher attacking opponent. So it was set out for him to deliver and make a statement that he does not give up and is still an important player of this club. He did it and it was strong but also very necessary.’Tuchel remains unsure whether Cesar Azpilicueta, who missed the game due to Covid, or injured Romelu Lukaku will be available for Tuesday’s game in Madrid.‘He [Lukaku] wasn’t in training yesterday, he was in too much pain,’ he reported. ‘There is not a lot of time, we have only two training sessions, and we leave the country on Monday. We need to wait, I have no answer right now.’