How big were those three points this evening?
For today, very big. The boys are super tired, it was huge. We had a bit of a rough start, we were not sharp enough, I had the feeling we tried to get away with skilful play but there were some last percentages missing in sharpness and in intensive effort.
Still, we didn’t allow too much and then we went behind through an own goal, a very unlucky one. But the reaction was good in the first half, second half even better. After our second goal we struggled a bit for ten minutes with the reaction from Villa but then we controlled the match and had big chances on the counter attack.
Our transition game could have decided the match earlier but we are super happy with his. We have again some injuries to our players and that will not change.
How important is a fit Romelu Lukaku to this Chelsea side?
There is no doubt that he is super important. Every player is but Romelu will be a key player, nobody doubts that.
The last time he started for us was in October and that was not because of quality or because we have any doubts that we are better without him starting. No doubts about this, it is not the case.
He was simply unlucky to get injured and then after his injury, while he was struggling to come back in the schedule that we have, he caught Covid so he had again ten days and suffered from symptoms.
Now we put him on the pitch for 45 minutes which was more than the fitness and medical department recommended for him but we thought we can take the risk and be more offensive with him.
I am happy, of course, that it went well for today. Let’s see now how the reaction is and how he adapts from here.
What did you say to Lukaku at half time?
To be honest, I asked him if he can play 45 minutes. I asked him and he said yes so we tried to play him for 45 minutes as a number nine.
There was no switch in our tactical formation. He does not need me to play in a game like this. He doesn’t need any speech for me. He has done nothing else in his whole life. He just needs to get fit and it is not so easy when you have a long injury, with a body like Rom and you catch Covid.
When you read the match sheet and read the names you might think, yes, everyone is there and it is a top squad. It is true but when you look in details, you see that we are struggling and taking some huge risks. Today, Callum was forced to play 90 minutes straight after Covid due to injuries during the match and that’s the way it is.
How important is the win?
I think it would be if we had a full squad, after the match in the cup, how we played it and how we won it. It gave us a lot of confidence also for the guys who didn’t play too many minutes. Today, another one away at Villa Park on Boxing Day. This is a big reaction and win.
At the same time, I am always concerned in the last weeks for the health and the safety of the players. That’s why you don’t see me fully excited. We could catch huge momentum, like you say, and pushing them and pushing them but we are just checking on a daily basis about who can be pushed.
Injuries – Thiago and Kante unlikely to play on Wednesday?
I guess so. It is only two days. It does not seem like from today to Wednesday is a very short time. N’Golo is very painful in exactly the same spot where he had his injury versus Juventus. It is exactly same spot.
Thiago is hamstrings. Hopefully he went out before it became an injury and from there we try to continue and find a new squad and strong squad on Wednesday.
Callum Hudson-Odoi had a big impact but you looked frustrated with him at times?
I think he was brilliant. I was never frustrated with him today. He had one bad decision under pressure when he tried to do a backheel in front of the coaching staff, maybe there was an easier solution to escape the pressure with an easy pass, there was a clear pass to NG. But I was never frustrated with him today.
I think he was brilliant today and we forced him. Normally it was clear he plays one half to the maximum of 60 minutes. This was already more than the recommendation of the fitness department but he was strong in training so I wanted to have him on the pitch. Hakim Ziyech has only one training session, Callum had two and a half, so we decided to put him in.
He was involved. He overcame some obstacles today and some adversity. There was a big game a very important game from him. Also we took a risk because he only just came back from Covid.
Source by Football London