Thomas Tuchel has criticized his Chelsea players for ‘not being tough enough’ and their ‘soft defence’ after losing 2-1 at Southampton.
Chelsea suffered their second loss of the season when Romeo Lavia and Adam Armstrong pulled off a stunning first-half turnover after Raheem Sterling’s opener.
The Blues have played inconsistently in their first five games, picking up just seven points to leave them eighth and languishing on pace in the top four.
And Tuchel was quick to assess his latest setback on the road, saying: “We’re not tough enough to win those away games. It was the same story at Leeds, there, we thought the problem was that we didn’t score in the first 25 minutes, then they knocked us off balance in two minutes with two goals and we couldn’t find an answer.
“Today we scored so everything was fine but again a free kick, sloppy defense again, we were off balance and we didn’t react. We were lucky not to concede a third goal at the start of the the second half We weren’t tough enough as a team to react or push over the line for us.
“Soft defense. What stops this pure mentality, stop it with a defense mentality. There is no superiority for the opponent, there is no need to kick, just to toughen up as a team and show a different mentality
“I don’t like to talk about it normally because you can’t prove it with data or a tactical position, but that’s how it is. Both goals are cheap, soft goals and shouldn’t happen if you you expect to win a game in the evening at an outdoor stadium.”
“We have to show a different mentality”
Chelsea were hampered by injuries and suspensions in August with Ruben Loftus-Cheek the latest victim, forced to withdraw at half-time for Mateo Kovacic, who has only just returned to training.
Reece James was also ill and missed the trip to St Mary’s while Conor Gallagher was suspended after being sent off against Leicester on Saturday.
Chelsea’s problems give Tuchel flashbacks to last season.
“It reminded me of Juventus last season,” he said. “We played a fantastic game at Stamford Bridge and after that we had Chilly (Ben Chilwell) for eight months and N’Golo Kante for three months.
“It was the same against Tottenham [earlier this month]. Our key player [Kante] says goodbye for six weeks minimum, then it’s red cards and Ruben is injured, and Kovacic is injured for eight weeks, Reece James is sick. It’s key player after key player. With our requirements and our ambition we have that’s how it is.
“If these key players are missing, you have to show a different mentality. It’s not enough at the moment to win at Leeds and Southampton. We are humble enough to accept that we can lose football games, but it’s too much. easy to deflect us too. challenges easy to win, too easy to intimidate us.
“Yesterday we had 16 players in training. I can’t imagine what will happen if everyone comes back, I just have what we have on the training ground and it’s not a lot for the moment.”
Analysis: Tuchel under pressure as Chelsea stutter
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
Chelsea’s season is going the other way right now. They were seconds away from following an opening weekend win over Everton with a deserved victory over Tottenham, but Harry Kane’s late goal proved the prelude to a dramatic mood change.
After being well beaten at Leeds, Thomas Tuchel’s side also lost their next away game as the players were accused of being weak by their own coach. “You just have to toughen up as a team and show a different mentality,” he said of the defeat at St Mary’s.
Easier said than done, it seems. For much of Tuchel’s time at Chelsea, his team looked solid but no more. No clean sheets in four only tells part of the story. They seem so open right now. The transition to back four does not seem to suit them and the injuries are piling up.
It’s a short-term problem and the imminent arrival of Wesley Fofana should also help. But with the attack slightly better – only Raheem Sterling has found the net in the last three games – and a gap with his rivals is already widening, Tuchel is now under pressure.