Thomas Tuchel said his side were bullied by Southampton on Tuesday and urged them to be tough on their upcoming away matches in the Premier League.
The Blues lost 2-1 at St Mary’s despite Raheem Sterling opening the scoring midway through the first half, as Romeo Lavia and Adam Armstrong hit shots to give the Saints their first home win over Chelsea since March 2013.
Tuchel’s side lost their second straight game on the road, having lost 3-0 to Leeds United on August 21, and are now eighth in the table.
The disjointed display was a far cry from a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on 14 August, when the Blues had no luck beating Spurs in a high-octane match, with both managers sent off after the final whistle.
Since then, Chelsea have lost N’Golo Kante with a hamstring injury and received red cards in successive matches as Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off at Leeds before Conor Gallagher was sent off in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Leicester City.
Rhys James also missed Southampton due to illness. Tuchel likened the current situation to the effects of the 4-0 victory over Juventus in November 2021, as they won only four of their next nine matches and lost two players due to injury.
“You know what he reminded me of? About Juventus last season,” Tuchel said after the match. “We played a great match against Juventus at Stamford Bridge last season and after that we had ‘Chile’. [Ben Chilwell] For eight months and N’Golo Kante for three months and it was the same against Tottenham.
“We put in a great performance. After that, our key player said goodbye for at least six weeks with N’Golo. Then it’s red cards – for [Koulibaly]To Connor and Robin [Loftus-Cheek] He left injured and Mateo Kovacic was injured eight weeks ago. He’s causing a pre-season injury. This is what reminds me of him.
“Reese James left the game today due to illness. He’s key player after key player, and that has that effect. With our demands and ambition, it’s like that. But most importantly, if those key players are missing, you have to show a different mindset.
“It’s not enough right now to beat Leeds and Southampton. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re humble enough to accept that we can lose football matches. We hate it. But it’s very easy to get off track, it’s very easy to win challenges, it’s easy.” Very bullying us.”
Asked to explain both goals, the first of which came from a poorly defended corner kick, and the second landslide move from Southampton that cut the heart of Chelsea, Tuchel said: “Len’s defense. What prevents that? Pure mentality. Stop defending. Mentality.”
“There is no outperformance, there is no need to give shots away. There is no need. Just be stronger as a team and show a different mentality, that is my assessment today.
“I don’t like to talk about it naturally because you can’t prove it with data, like body position or tactical position on the field. But it is. Both goals are cheap goals and easy goals and should not happen if you expect to win a Premier League game in the evening at a stadium. Far away. You have to be stronger than that.”