Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel reeled off an extensive list of factors behind his side’s underwhelming return to Premier League action on Saturday against Crystal Palace.
The Blues staggered to a 1-0 win over the Eagles in their first match since being crowned world champions against Palmeiras last weekend.
But they were far from their best, and everything from jetlag to the air conditioning on the plane that took them home from Abu Dhabi contributed to a lacklustre performance, according to their boss.
What was said?
“I have to stay calm now. How a week like this works, we come from a 30-degree temperature difference, we have six players with a cold from the AC in the plane, we have jet lag from Abu Dhabi, we have no player who slept well in Abu Dhabi because of temperature and the time difference,” Tuchel fired when it was suggested to him that his side benefited from having an entire week to prepare for the Palace game.
“So it’s the same here. If you think we have a normal week to prepare I can just tell you it’s not like this. We are trying to survive at the moment and you can see.
“There is a lot of pressure going on if you go to a World Cup and want to win it for Chelsea. The players put a lot of pressure on themselves and then we haven’t played in the Premier League for four weeks. It’s a huge and strange mix of a lot of reasons why, personally, I did not over-expect today performance-wise.
“Then we had some issues in training with Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta) and Callum Hudson-Odoi went out from training. So this is where we are and it is like this. I know we can play better, that we want to play better.”
‘Quality, not quantity’
Chelsea played two games in four days during their jaunt in Abu Dhabi, taking down Al-Hilal in the semi-final before prevailing on penalties over Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras.
They now turn their attentions to the Champions League last 16 and are also still active in the FA and Carabao Cups, prompting Tuchel to add fixture congestion to his lengthy list of irritants.
“We were solid and disciplined defensively. We told the team at half time not to lose faith and to keep on going like in a cup game,” he added.
“Maybe this one chance would come and it would be decisive. Keep on believing, don’t do crazy stuff, don’t take risks, and allow transition for the opponent.
“The first chance we allowed for Crystal Palace was a clear foul on Christian Pulisic and, okay, the last one in added time we could’ve defended better, but it is their only chance. It is a clean sheet and it’s not the first 1-0 we have.”