Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel vented his displeasure at his side’s surprise struggles in the first half versus Tottenham, though hailed the “outstanding” performance of the man of the match.
Chelsea were caught off guard by a vibrant Tottenham performance in the first half. Spurs pressed high and oversaw sustained periods of pressure. However, as has been shown on the big occasions, Chelsea’s rearguard is difficult to breach even when under the pump.
N’Golo Kante’s introduction at half time turned the game on its head after Chelsea were able to wrest control of the midfield.
Thiago Silva became the club’s second oldest goalscorer behind Didier Drogba in the Premier League when nodding home from a corner.
Kante doubled the lead via a deflected shot before Antonio Rudiger rubbed salt in the wounds when sweeping home in injury time.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Tuchel highlighted a lack of “intent, energy and relentlessness” as being barriers to their first-half success.
“I was absolutely not happy with the first 45 minutes,” said Tuchel.
“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 relentlessness 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.”
Regarding his match-defining decision to hook Mason Mount for Kante, Tuchel added: “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.”
“Outstanding” – Tuchel lauds veteran superstar
On the magnificent all-round display of 36-year-old Silva, Tuchel said: “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.”
On Rudiger’s late arrival to the stadium, the German said: “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.”