Thomas Tuchel spoke at length about the worrying recent form of Chelsea, and admitted the prospect of facing Leeds United factored into a suspect call.
After plain sailing to begin the season, Chelsea have finally hit choppy waters. The Blues have won just one of their last four matches across all competitions. The defeat to West Ham saw them knocked off top spot in the Premier League, while a draw with Zenit St Petersburg ensured Chelsea were made to settle for runners-up in Champions League Group H.
Speaking in his Friday press conference ahead of Saturday’s clash with Leeds, Tuchel addressed his side’s sketchy form.
He admitted Chelsea appeared not ready to face Watford 10 days ago, and pointed to letting leads slip as being particularly “unusual” for his team. In doing so, he also stated it is “not the time to look away and pretend nothing is happening”.
“For me it is about the last three games,” said Tuchel (via Football London).
“The way we played was like I said the first time, I had a feeling we were not ready to play Watford and match their intensity. We escaped with a win and managed to grow on an acceptable level.
“West Ham was, a very good first half and an OK second half, but a terrible result for us.
Last two games “very unusual” – Tuchel
“We had a lot of changes then let a lead slip through our fingers in the very last minute [versus Zenit St Petersburg].
“If you have the lead four times in two matches and you escape with one point and six goals conceded, it is not the time to look away and pretend nothing is happening.
“We cannot drop in subjects when we have the lead. The last two games were very unusual for us.
“We were also unlucky in these moments like the last two goals we conceded were not perhaps ones you would usually concede. It is back to basics and basics on the highest level.
“We are in this together. We are aware of it, it is not the moment to worry too much but also to not look away.”
Tuchel admits Leeds test prompted changes
Tuchel then commented on the daunting prospect of facing Marcelo Bielsa’s high intensity Leeds side with his own players clearly off the pace at present. But first, he admitted to making so many changes against Zenit with one eye on the Leeds clash.
While that decision was understandable given the club’s current injury issues, it did allow Juventus to secure top spot in the group. As such, Chelsea could now face a harder draw in the first knockout round than they otherwise might’ve had.
“I think it helped us that we had a day off before Zenit, I felt us ready to play Zenit,” said Tuchel.
“But we knew the game Saturday was coming and we know the opponent, the league, it will be the highest intensity. Leeds have prepared the whole week for that. That is why the changes happened.
“We have had two training sessions, not even 48 hours after the match. We will have a good rest later and focus on tomorrow, 3pm.”
On what he expects his side to face against the Whites, Tuchel added: “I expect intensity, runs, man-marking, a very unique approach to football and to play against.
“It reminds me a bit of Atalanta, very unique. We need to be strong individually and with connections of two or three players. This is how we can impose our quality and this is what you need to do against Leeds.
“It will not stop until we are in the shower.”
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