Two days after Chelsea’s bizarre beating at the hands of London rivals Arsenal, Thomas Tuchel is still struggling to account for the unusual mistakes made by his usually airtight side.
Arsenal hadn’t scored for three games, but had struck four at Stamford Bridge, with Andreas Christensen and the usually reliable Cesar Azpilicueta among the Blues providing a helping hand for Mikel Arteta’s men.
“It was very strange to analyze,” he says. sky sports at Chelsea’s training base in Cobham. “The mix of individual errors and then suddenly very good images, for example counter-pressing and high pressing and ball recoveries in the opponent’s half.
“We had so many good shots. We felt like we did a lot of things right. Everything was fine. And then we conceded a very strange goal, making a lot of mistakes in the build-up to the goal.
“Especially when it comes from experienced players who aren’t normally involved in it and usually aren’t.
“I don’t have an answer at the moment [for the individual mistakes]. The decisions we make are the right decisions, these are the executions. But they’re not so technically demanding that we think, “well, maybe that was a bit too much”. It’s about speed, hitting the ball, over-hitting, under-hitting, a bit of one-on-one slapstick, fun rebounds… weird.
“Suddenly you’re trying to see a trend over the last few home games, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it was some kind of anomalous result. It looks like a trend because we had the Real Madrid and Brentford games.”
This trio of consecutive home defeats contributes to the fact that Chelsea, who had kept six clean sheets in nine games before the international break in March, have since conceded 13 goals in six matches.
It’s an alarming drop that has led to honest encounters between coaches and players.
A harsh denunciation after the Brentford and Real Madrid results sparked a brief rejuvenation, which saw Chelsea win 6-0 at Southampton, almost make a huge comeback at the Bernabeu, then reach the FA Cup final with a victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley.
Tuchel hopes the post-match encounter in Arsenal’s defeat can have the same impact.
“We conceded 11 goals in three home matches, we can’t pretend that everything resolves itself,” said Tuchel.
“We have to talk about it. It’s not like pointing fingers and yelling and being angry all the time, it’s just being honest. The players get their feedback – they get their feedback too when they do good – and at some point we have to give them our perspective to be on the same page and be clear on what we need to improve.”
Tuchel’s analysis also includes an in-depth analysis of the data. Before we sat down, he had referred to the team’s expected goal (xG) figures and stats recording their number of errors leading to goals during his press conference, uninvited.
Interestingly, his xG comments came the day after Ralph Hasenhuttl used the system to defend Southampton’s performance in their loss at Burnley. What was a niche and widely mocked metric when it first appeared has now become a go-to tool for Premier League managers.
“We knew that for a long time and now it’s been made public, which I think is a good thing because it gives you a more realistic view of your performance,” said Tuchel when asked about how xG helps him in his work.
What are the expected objectives?
Expected Goals (xG) measures the quality of a shot based on several variables such as type of assist, angle of shot and distance to goal, if it was a headed shot and if it was defined as a big chance.
Adding up a player’s or team’s expected goals can give us an indication of how many goals a player or team should have scored on average, given the shots they took.
“You can lose football matches by being unlucky and you can win matches by being lucky and the result very often does not reflect what happened on the pitch. So it gives you a clear view: how many chances you allow, how many shots in which quality you allow. It’s nice to have that number.
“As with every number, the more you think about it, the more you find your bearings. So we know how, over a season or half a season, what level of goals are expected if you play in a certain structure and if that is suddenly higher, we ask ourselves, ‘what is going on in the structure?’
“If we concede double, we’re tempted to say we’re in a very unlucky streak right now because obviously the quality we’re giving isn’t enough to concede that much and we concede anyway. It’s hard to take .”
Indeed, in Chelsea’s Premier League and Champions League games since club football resumed after the March internationals, their xG figure suggests they would normally allow eight goals for the quality of the chances they gave up. . They let 13 in.
In the Premier League, their goals against column was around nine goals better than in their first 28 games, according to their opponents’ xG figures. In the last three matches, they are three goals worse off.
These figures underline how much errors at the back cost Chelsea – although giving away unnecessary goals or opportunities has been a persistent problem for much of the season.
According to Opta, only Everton and relegation-threatened Watford have made more errors leading to goals than Chelsea.
“It’s very atypical, in any league, for any team at the top of the table, fighting for the top three to make these kinds of mistakes,” Tuchel said shaking his head.
“We have a game like Man Utd at home for example, where it’s 0-0, we’ve come off a good run of results, we’re the dominant team, you feel like it’s a matter of time before we score and win this game and finish it and suddenly it’s a big mistake and we’re 1-0 behind and that makes it very complicated.”
A Jorginho penalty saved at least a point for Chelsea in that game in November, but a week later at the London Stadium the Italian’s poor back pass for Edouard Mendy led to the goalkeeper being awarded a penalty , which helped West Ham establish the platform. for Arthur Masuaku’s unlikely crossover winner.
The return device – live on Sky Sports – offers an opportunity to make amends but Tuchel, who spoke about his 50th Premier League game in charge of Chelsea against Arsenal, is keen to keep perspective on what his side have achieved so far this season.
“We’ve had some fantastic experiences this season,” he said. “We won finals, titles, we fought for the Carabao Cup until the last game, now an FA Cup final, we were on a good run in the Champions League and had an almost epic game at the Bernabeu …
“So there’s a lot of positives in there and it looks like it and we have to be careful now that we don’t add a note to it that overshadows all of that.
“We struggled with Corona, and we struggled with long term injuries and we did our best and for me personally I still feel very happy to be here and it’s a group of amazing players to work with.
“We have our problems to solve and since the international break it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, which is very surprising because it’s never been like this, so we have to deal with another element of our history.
“[The West Ham games is] a chance to get back on track. A very strong opponent again. They won’t back down, they won’t make our lives easy so it’s a big challenge to overcome this inconsistency right now and show some personality but also a time to stick together as a group and stay positive .”
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