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2021-2022-Season

#PLStories- Thomas Tuchel on Leeds vs Chelsea, Kovacic injury, Lukaku form, Chalobah, more #CHELSEAFC

Thomas Tuchel

What’s the assessment of your side’s performance tonight?

“I think we played very, very well from the very first minute. I was very happy with the level of focus, determination, and support we showed. We were strong in the challenges, brave in our defending, and supported each other. So I’m very happy with the performance over the 90 minutes. We were very strong when it was eleven against eleven. Later, the focus shifts a little bit when you have one more player on the pitch because you have easier ball poessesion. But at the same time, the level of focus needs to stay high and you have to stay very disciplined to not allow counter-attacks because Leeds will never stop running or fighting. We did this. So the effort and all focus was on counter-pressing and if we made mistakes, it was a case of where we made the mistakes. We understood the game better and better when we were one man up in the second half and we did not give in. That was the most important. And it was a deserved win for good performance.” 

Is Romelu Lukaku finding his rhythm at the right time?

“It’s always the right time to find rhythm. I’m happy he scored again and he wanted to stay on the pitch to get his goal. I’m happy as well for Puli (Christian Pulisic) and Mason (Mount) that we were decisive with the offensive players. This is important for them because it gives them confidence.”

Is Mateo Kovacic likely to play in the FA Cup final after going off injured?

“I tell you not as a coach and not as an expert, but for me it is very unlikely. I see him – first of all, if Mateo goes out, he never goes out and he played in the semi-final of the FA Cup with the same injury and tried to play another 15 minutes, which was almost impossible. Now he went out. It was a swollen ankle and he is in a lot of pain. For me, I am not a doctor and we need to wait for the examinations. It is very unlikely he can play. It is absolutely bad news for us on a perfect evening.”

How big can that win be for you ahead of the FA Cup final?

“It was necessary to change things, how we play on the field. Where we take risks, how we take risks, how we protect each other, the focus, the level of awareness of where dangerous situations can be for us and where we need to protect each other. We needed to step up, it’s as easy as that. There was a reason why we conceded the goals, there was a reason we conceded a late equaliser. We did this as a team and, of course, tactical decisions but it was also the behaviour in the tactics. We talked about it and immediately stepped up. There was nothing new that we did today but we did our stuff with a much higher level of focus and discipline than in the last matches. I felt the team very calm and determined before the match and they delivered a performance that we got so used to over many weeks. We saw a big difference today and I’m happy. It was necessary – not only because of our situation – because it’s good to arrive to a match like on Saturday with a calm mind. This was the foundation for that: this performance.”

Were you angered by Daniel James challenge and how disappointed will you be for Mateo Kovacic if he does miss the FA Cup final?

“If he misses it I’m very disappointed because he was a clear starter. If you look at the quality today with Jorgi and him in central midfield when we played eleven against eleven, it was a very strong start. He is a key figure for us in midfield. He played against Liverpool – I think both matches from the beginning – and was very strong. He’s super, super hungry and determined, and excited to play these matches. And of course, he is in fear he will miss it. We will see. We need to wait. Maybe we have a miracle and we make it possible. I did not see the challenge live. I just saw it from a distance on the iPad. I am not good at looking at these situations because it hurts me physically to watch it, but everybody told me it is a clear red card.”

Was taking Romelu off something you discussed?

“We asked him how he felt because after 75 minutes, for a more heavy player with a big physical input after two matches, maybe it was good to go out. But I was aware he did not have his goal. Puli and Mason already scored so we left him on the pitch to try to get his goal and we’re happy with how that worked.”

How pleased were you with Trevoh Chalobah’s performance tonight after you brought him back in?

“He can deliver these performances and he played a lot, so there is no reason to be disappointed for him. He has an unbelievable amount of matches from the start [of the season] and we know this. It’s normal to have a bit of an up and down in terms of positive performance, that is normal. We informed the team very late today who plays. He did maybe not expect it. It was the same against West Ham where he came in on short notice. In both matches he delivered. This is the level he can deliver. It’s about consistency. He lacked it a little in the last weeks and we did some other choices which is normal. But he needs to stay humble, hard working and he can be a big part of it.”

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