EPL

Tuchel says Chelsea must cope with undeserved losses as Liverpool close gap in top-four race

By Sports Desk May 17, 2021

Chelsea face a challenge to cope with undeserved losses, according to manager Thomas Tuchel, as they bid to guarantee Champions League football next season.

Qualification for Europe's top club competition via their league standing is still in the Blues' hands but, having lost 1-0 to Arsenal prior to their defeat by the same scoreline in Saturday's FA Cup final with Leicester City, they are just a point ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool with two games to go.

The Reds claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over West Brom on Sunday to trim the deficit, goalkeeper Alisson heading in a remarkable winner at the death.

But Tuchel sees no reason for Chelsea – who of course can still qualify for next season's competition by beating Manchester City in the Champions League final this month – to start nervously looking over their shoulders as they control their destiny going into Tuesday's rematch with Leicester.

Instead, he views putting defeats in two games they dominated behind them as the bigger test for his side.

Chelsea lost to Arsenal after a calamitous error by Jorginho, Tuchel's men finishing the game with an xG of 1.79 to the Gunners' 0.64.

The cup final saw them beaten by a superb long-range effort by Youri Tielemans, with a late Wes Morgan own goal ruled out for offside as a game Chelsea ended with an xG of 0.78 to Leicester's 0.32 went in the favour of the Foxes.

Asked if he watched Liverpool's win, Tuchel told a media conference: "I came home in the afternoon and I checked on the television and saw 1-1.

"I checked again in the 95th minute and it was still 1-1. Then one minute later I saw. It doesn't make things boring. It was a fantastic header in the last minute that makes things interesting and tight. It's still in our hands.

"The setback for us was the Arsenal game. We let the door open so Liverpool have a foot in the door. They're a strong team and it's what they do. We make a huge effort to overtake them and this is what we did. We should be aware of the huge performance we've made so far but we need to finish the job.

"We need to rely on ourselves because we are in the situation where we don't have to look at other grounds.

"We were ready to win the game in the cup final and I understand that after the Man City game there could be a drop of focus for the Arsenal game.

"I never want it and we fight against the human side to drop a percentage but I can understand it.

"I have no worries or regrets about Leicester. I felt my team fighting on an extremely high level. We can improve in composure and decision-making.

"That is not new for us since we are together. So except the results, nothing much has changed.

"I'm not afraid to say these are not deserved losses but they are losses and it's a challenge to cope with it. It's another step in our development."

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    Thomas Tuchel said Chelsea must find a solution to N'Golo Kante's fitness struggles after the Blues came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Leicester City.

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    Meanwhile, Chelsea were once again left to rely on their wing-backs to provide attacking impetus against the Foxes, with Reece James claiming his eighth league assist of the season by teeing up Alonso's goal.

    James has now created twice as many goals this season as in his previous two Premier League campaigns combined (four assists in 56 appearances), while the Blues also racked up 20 shots to Leicester's two over the course of the contest.

    Christian Pulisic was guilty of missing Chelsea's best chance to claim a second-half winner as the hosts created 1.64 expected goals (xG) to the Foxes' 0.09, and while Tuchel was content with his team's performance, he was again left to bemoan their lack of cutting edge.  

    "We were the better team and deserved to win," he added. "We didn't allow any chances and got punished by a shot from outside the box. We created enough to win, didn't allow transitions and chances for Leicester. So, I am fine with the performance.

    "It's a bit of a broken record, we did not take what we deserve. We needed a goal from a wing-back and an assist from a wing-back."

    Chelsea will round off their Premier League campaign with another home match on Sunday, when relegated Watford travel to Stamford Bridge.

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