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‘That’s not us’ – Tuchel concedes Chelsea were ‘lucky’ to beat Watford

Chelsea maintained their place at the summit after overcoming a spirited Watford side with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road on Wednesday evening.

The Hornets had caused Manchester United all sorts of problems in their last league outing on home soil and were again impressive right from the off against the league leaders, Edouard Mendy called into action early on to keep out Joao Pedro’s effort.

 

With less than 15 minutes played, however, the game was then brought to a halt following a medical emergency in the crowd, albeit with the hosts continuing where they had left off when play did eventually resume after a half an hour delay.

After a sluggish start to proceedings, it was Chelsea who eventually made the breakthrough against the run of play midway through the first-half, Mason Mount marking his return to the starting XI with a simple finish from Kai Havertz’s unselfish pullback.

To their credit, Claudio Ranieri’s men were unperturbed by falling behind and deservedly pulled themselves level just before the break, summer signing Emmanuel Dennis netting for the third league game in a row after squeezing his effort through the legs of Antonio Rudiger.

Seeking an improved second-half display from his side, Thomas Tuchel withdrew on-loan midfielder Saul Niguez at the interval – the second time the Spaniard has endured that fate in just his two league starts – although there was no notable uplift as they toiled for a second.

Heading towards a second successive league draw, a bolt from the blue from Hakim Ziyech fired the away side ahead, the Moroccan lashing in superbly after Mount’s threaded pass with just under twenty minutes to play.

That proved to be the decisive blow as the Blues hung on for the three points to maintain their place at the top of the table, albeit with Tuchel admitting it was a ‘lucky win’ after an underwhelming display from the European champions.

“That’s not us. We were absolutely not ready today for this match,” he told Amazon Prime Sport. “I missed maybe to find the right approach to make my team ready. We had the break due to very sad circumstances – hopefully the person is better. Even this break after the first 11 minutes did not change our approach. We did not cope with the pressure, with the first ball, second ball.

“We had a lot of changes but too many faults. It did not get better. The only thing we could do was hang in there and focus on the easy things. It was a lucky win.

“I see this totally as an exception from the rule. I will not insist too long on this match because it’s so unusual for us to play like this. The next game on Saturday, the most worried I am is about the injury for Trevoh Chalobah. The doctor was on the pitch 20 times today it felt like. It’s a big loss from Trev. I’m a bit worried.

“Havertz was very strong today. I felt he was the one player reaching his level today. We missed some players. We had some players overloaded. We stole three points. We don’t have to talk around it. For the first time it feels like a lucky win.”

Chelsea are next in action against high-flying West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Read: The longest waits for a win at the start of a Premier League season

Read Also: Rating the impact of every German Premier League manager

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