Tuchel blames Chelsea pitch after Arsenal loss
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has claimed the Stamford Bridge pitch was partially to blame for Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat to Arsenal.
Two goals from Eddie Nketiah in addition to Emile Smith Rowe‘s first-half strike and Bukayo Saka‘s stoppage-time penalty handed the Gunners a vital win in their pursuit of Champions League football as they went level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham
Arsenal also condemned Chelsea to their third consecutive home league defeat for the first time since 1993-94, a poor run made even worse by a Champions League quarter-final first leg loss to Real Madrid in front of their own supporters.
Olley: Nketiah gives Arsenal new life, Lukaku conjures no such revival
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Andreas Christensen was substituted at half-time after gifting Nketiah the opening goal of the match and when asked to explain that decision, Tuchel said: “He said he cannot continue, so I think he had some problems. I don’t take a player out because he makes one mistake.
“To say the pitch is difficult to play here it maybe sounds like an excuse, but it is a very, very difficult pitch that we have here. It’s not in our favour. The ball bounces very awkwardly in front of Andreas when he wants to play this ball.
“But still, we had the same mistake against Real Madrid that cost us the next round of the Champions League, and this one cost us the next match. I can’t remember when we got two goals like this.
“We conceded seven goals with Toni [Rudiger] against Brentford and Real Madrid, that answers the question. It’s not about individual players. A defensive performance is a team performance, and an offensive performance is a team performance. You need to have the tactics right, which is doubtful I had this right, and you need the team selection right, again it’s doubtful I had this right.
“Then it’s a game for the players. They get full praise when they do it when they did it for the last three matches. And they have to face the reality that it’s impossible to win matches if you make this amount of mistakes of this calibre. It’s simply impossible. I don’t see it in any other matches, but I see it now in consecutive matches of our games, and it has to stop.”
Although Chelsea twice drew level through Timo Werner and Cesar Azpilicueta — who was seen arguing with a supporter at full-time, prompting Tuchel to admit “I saw it, but honestly, I can understand the fan” — Nketiah’s second and Saka’s penalty ensured the Gunners had the last laugh.
It was Saka’s first spot-kick since suffering racist abuse as one of three black players to miss for England in the Euro 2020 final shootout and Arteta said: “When I saw Bukayo was going to take it, my first thought was to him back in the summer and what happened. But again, as I said before, when that happened to Bukayo it happened for a reason and he learned so much and matured so much which is why he’s having the season he’s having.”