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2021-2022-Season

#PLStories- Thomas Tuchel on Saul Niguez, Chelsea’s “lucky” win at Watford and Hakim Ziyech #CHELSEAFC

Thomas Tuchel

The medical emergency – how worrying was it and true the players didn’t want to come out until it was under control?

We were in constant dialogue with the referees and they did the right thing, the players did the right thing to inform the medical on both benches. Both of them were very fast to help the person. All the thoughts from us Chelsea, the dressing and hopefully everything has gone well. That is the most important thing. The referee decided the teams go into the dressing room to first of all give the medicals time to help in the situation and second to give the players the chance to get in from the cold. Then we were constantly informed of when we would go out, how much time we had for a warm up and that was pretty much it. 

Critical of your players tonight- what did you say at half time?

Very sloppy and it was a very unusual performance for us. Like I said, I had the feeling we were not ready. Not only maybe,. I am involved in that, I have to get the team ready, I didn’t prepare them for what was coming because it was the first time we completely underperformed as a team. We didn’t win first balls, second balls, we did not cope well with the pressure. It is one thing to win or lose challenges but we did not even find them. We had the chance to speak about it in the break and then the chance again at half time and tried to give easy messages because it was obvious that we struggled in the build up and skilful solutions. We needed to do the basics better, hang in there and change the mentality and to accept it. We tried, I don’t think I was too critical with players but we are also critical of ourselves when we analyse the situation. I think we can admit today that we were lucky to win this game. It was a very unusual performance for us, I will not focus long on this match because we play on Saturday again. There are reasons that it wasn’t easy for us, Watford played with lots of enthusiasm and we struggled in the basics. I don’t know what but it was like this. We are in this together and we got a lucky win today.

Saul – protected him vs Villa when you subbed him off and was that the same tonight? Where does he go from this performance?

I don’t know where he goes from this performance but he was on a yellow card so we had two options – take Marcos [Alonso] off who also had a yellow card and try Saul as a wing-back. I had this in my mind before the game, if something happened to Marcos. I thought maybe it was not the right match to try things with new positions so it was him to change the shape a little bit and have Thiago on the pitch with his organising. Having Trevoh [Chalobah] on the six who is more physical – unfortunately Trevoh injured himself and we ended up with Ruben on the single six. It was a tactical decision.

Hakim Ziyech’s first league goal of the season, how important was it for you?

Very important. It was like when the first half continued like this, then we had a big chance with Mason and the goal from Mason but it didn’t really help us to find the grip on the game and to grow into it. Then we conceded. Of course we were hoping, trying to influence the game from the bench with offensive changes because we had that feeling of losing points against Burnley and Man Utd at 1-1 and it was not that we dominate by our team performance, it was a matter of time when we scored so we tried to infuse some courage with offensive changes because we hoped maybe spaces will open if if Watford continued to attack so brave with their high number 8s and we can find a better transition game. It is always good if the guys score and are decisive. It was important to hang in and get the three points. I am happy for Hakim.

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