Thomas Tuchel has admitted that he was ‘absolutely not happy’ with Chelsea’s first-half showing, as they responded excellently to beat Spurs 3-0 in the London derby.
Spurs were the better of the two sides in the opening stages at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, creating a number of presentable openings through Son Heung Min, Harry Kane and Sergio Reguilon, though were guilty of lacking quality in their final action.
Chelsea meanwhile looked far from their often dominant best in the opening 45, with Thomas Tuchel feeling the need to change his side’s shape at the half time interval, bringing on midfielder N’Golo Kante in place of Mason Mount as the German boss looked to wrestle back some control.
The change had an almost immediate effect, with Chelsea getting straight on the front foot in the second half and quickly taking the lead.
Veteran defender Thiago Silva made a late ghosting run into the Spurs area to meet an out-swinging Marcos Alonso corner, the Brazilian’s run not being picked up and his header flying into the bottom corner.
Substitute Kante would double his side’s lead eight minutes later, the World Cup winner’s 30 yard effort taking a wicked deflection off Eric Dier to leave Hugo Lloris helpless, though question marks have to be asked about Spurs desire to close the Frenchman down.
Antonio Rudiger would round off the scoring in added time, though in truth, Chelsea could have had four or five in what was a thoroughly dominant second-half display.
The win moves Chelsea level on points with Liverpool and Manchester United at the top of the table, and speaking afterwards, Thomas Tuchel conceded that he was ‘absolutely not happy’ with his side’s performance in the opening 45.
Chelsea have now kept more clean sheets (15) than they have conceded goals (14) in the Premier League under Thomas Tuchel. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/KeaDNUKdDY
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 19, 2021
“Yes it was [a game of two halves], you’re absolutely right,” he told Sky Sports. “I was absolutely not happy with the first 45 minutes. There were individual performances which were great in the first half from Kepa and Thiago Silva. Even more players were good but in general we lacked intent, energy and relentless in duels and 50-50 balls.
“I had the feeling we wanted to impress by pure skills but in derbies like this it is not always about just skills. It is about aggression, winning duels and performing better as a team. We spoke clearly about it at half time. In the second half it was a very good performance and a deserved win in the second half. It was a very good reaction so I am happy with the performance in the second half.”
Asked about his half time tactical switch, the German said: “It was a hard choice for Mason Mount and it was a bit more defensive from N’Golo Kante but I wanted to give energy.
“I was not ready to talk about the spaces here and there. It was about the second balls and duels. It was about growing in confidence through energy and ball wins and higher work-rate. That was the signal to the talk more or less.”
Veteran defender Thiago Silva put in a dominant man of the match display: “It was nice that he almost scored twice. He was so strong. I am very happy for him that he was able to open the game for us. His performance even in the first half was outstanding. It was a fantastic performance and well deserved.”
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 19, 2021
Antonio Rudiger was a late arrival following issues with his Covid passport upon entry to the stadium, and while Tuchel wasn’t particularly fussed about the situation, he felt that the incident was indicative of his side’s sluggish first half display, admitting his side ‘still have things to improve’ upon: “I was not concerned but it is strange when your player arrives late. He had some passport issues. It was like this in the first half. We were there but not fully there. I was glad we were able to overcome these situations.
“We are competitive and we want to be competitive. It is no excuse to say we are not ready. We want to produce results and we can. It’s what we want at the club. We want to win.
“We are competitive in this level to win already but we still have things to improve. The first half was proof of that. It’s good to have these hard situations now and to overcome them. We are able to produce deserved wins so it’s a good basis to keep on going.”