Thomas Tuchel admitted he isn’t sure what the rules are any more regarding the red card shown to Reece James in Chelsea’s draw with Liverpool, before explaining his tactical approach with 10 men.
Chelsea took the lead against Liverpool with a looping Kai Havertz header, but things unravelled when James was sent off after a VAR check because the ball hit his arm on the goalline. Mohamed Salah scored the subsequent penalty, but Chelsea held firm in the second half to cling onto a point.
Despite Liverpool having many more chances after the break, Chelsea frustrated them and retained their unbeaten record from their opening three games.
However, it could have followed a different flow had it remained 11 v 11. And Tuchel had mixed feelings about the incident in which James was sent off.
He told Match of the Day: “The red card – I’m not even sure any more if it’s the rules or not the rules. You have to accept the decision. He maybe would have changed his mind with moving pictures.
“In the end it maybe would have stayed the same. I don’t like early red cards in general because it spoils the game.
“In the end it was a tough and hard fight. We showed great resilience and deserved the point.”
After the red card, Tuchel made a double change at the interval. A switch in midfield was enforced, but tactically, Chelsea opted to withdraw attacking midfielder Havertz for centre-back Thiago Silva.
Explaining why they kept a similar system with one man less, Tuchel said: “We decided to stay in a back five. We wanted to stay active and make it hard to create chances.
“The first 10 minutes seemed endless. The last five minutes I was actually praying we take what we deserved. It was a hard and a tough one, but a very strong second half defensively.”
Azpilicueta happy with Chelsea performance
It was a busy second half in particular for Chelsea’s backline, but each individual performed admirably.
Someone who adapted to different roles across the 90 minutes was captain Cesar Azpilicueta. He started in the back three and ended up at right wing-back when Silva came on.
Azpilicueta was pleased with how his teammates remained in control.
He told Sky Sports: “I think we had the best two chances, even if they had the most of the possession.
“I think we controlled the game really. We had the chance to score the second goal even if we wasn’t at our best in terms of passing the ball. Their whole team presses really well.”