Thomas Tuchel has said that he was happy with Chelsea’s second half performance, after they drew 0-0 with Manchester United on Sunday.
The Blues failed to capitalise on the chance to return to the top four, after they were held to a goalless draw by United at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will feel hard done by for not taking all three points, after rivals Leicester City and West Ham both fell to defeat this weekend.
Speaking to the media in his post-match press conference, the Chelsea manager gave his verdict on the stalemate.
Tuchel said, “In general, I saw a high-level game between two good teams. We had difficulties to escape the pressure in the first half, we had some easy ball losses, and we lost the ball in moments we were under pressure. We defended very well, though we had to suffer in some minutes of the game.”
He continued, “I liked the second half a lot, full intensity game and very good defending from the wide positions and Bruno Fernandes. I have the feeling that we deserved to win, but you have to take your chances, which we also didn’t have. In the end we accept it, a clean sheet. We had lots of courage, very aggressive and a good performance in the second half.”
Chelsea will be ruing their missed opportunities on Sunday, proving to be wasteful and once again lacking a cutting edge in front of goal. Olivier Giroud had a series of big chances in the first half, while Hakim Ziyech saw his effort impressively saved by David de Gea in the hosts’ best chance of the second half.
The result sees Chelsea remain fifth in the Premier League, closing the gap between them and fourth-place West Ham to just one point. That being said, seventh-place Everton could leapfrog both if they win their two games in hand, with all eyes set to be affixed on the Toffees when they are in action.
On missing the chance to go fourth, Tuchel explained, “It would’ve clearly been a big step, we tried everything to win, we prepared for this game with no other intention but to win. We are in the middle of a battle for the top four, we closed the gap very quickly, and now is the moment to hang in and put in performances every three, four days.
“It’s also difficult to play against us, and we’ll be able to win games. It would not have been the last step or the decisive step.”
In what was an uneventful game on the whole, Manchester United had a big shout for a penalty in the first half. The ball appeared to graze off Callum Hudson-Odoi’s flailing hand, and although referee Stuart Attwell belatedly went to make a VAR check, the verdict was no penalty.
Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was adamant that it was a penalty, but his counterpart believed otherwise.
“For me, it was no penalty,” Tuchel stated. “I was surprised, because I didn’t see it live, and when we checked on the pictures on the bench, I could not see any incident that should qualify for a penalty. Until now, I don’t know why it should be a penalty.”
Hudson-Odoi did not get the opportunity to leave his mark on the game, taken off at half-time for Reece James. The youngster had picked up an injury in the first 45 minutes, and it was clear that Chelsea did not want to risk him.
When asked about why Hudson-Odoi was taken off, Tuchel replied, “He was a little bit injured, and the reason was a combination of a tactical decision and injury to switch to a back five. Reece James in the second half, that was not an option to use Callum [in that formation].”
Another youngster who struggled was Tammy Abraham, who did not even make the matchday squad. Despite being Chelsea’s top scorer with 12 goals this season, he was left out of the 18-man squad altogether, with Giroud starting and Timo Werner on the bench.
On Abraham, Tuchel said, “At the moment, he’s only struggling with my decisions. We only have Thiago Silva injured, so you have to make hard decisions. It was also a hard decision for Billy Gilmour. We opted for Oli [Giroud] to start, there was no need to bring a false nine onto the pitch. Things aren’t easy for him, it’s not his fault, but he gets our full support.”
Tuchel added, “He’s totally natural, he has to do exactly what he does: train well, be in a good mood and accept that he’s a striker for Chelsea with tough competition. This is what you sign up for if you’re a player for Chelsea, there’s no other answer than to accept it and fight for the squad.”
Chelsea travel north next to face defending champions Liverpool on Thursday, who are currently languishing just below in sixth. The Blues are then back at Stamford Bridge on 8th March, when they welcome the other half of Merseyside in the form of Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton.
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