Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has explained the reasoning behind substituting Saul Niguez at half-time of Wednesday night’s narrow win at Watford in the Premier League.
The Spain star, who joined the Blues on loan from Atletico Madrid last summer, was given just his second Premier League start at Vicarage Road but struggled badly as Emmanuel Dennis cancelled out Mason Mount’s opener and was replaced by Thiago Silva at the interval.
Saul was also hauled off at half-time on his league debut and appears to be struggling to adapt to the style of English football.
Watford were clearly the better team in the opening 45 minutes. The visitors continued to struggle in the second half but still managed to grab a winner through Hakim Ziyech.
Speaking after the victory, Tuchel was asked about Saul’s substitution and said: “I don’t know where he goes from this performance but he was on a yellow card so we had two options.
“We could have taken Marcos [Alonso] off who also had a yellow card and try Saul as a wing-back.
“I had this in my mind before the game, if something happened to Marcos. But I thought maybe it was not the right match to try things with new positions so it was [subbing] him to change the shape a little bit and have Thiago on the pitch with his organising.
“Having Trevoh [Chalobah] on the number six who is more physical – unfortunately Trevoh injured himself and we ended up with Ruben on the single six. But it was a tactical decision.”
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Tuchel admits Chelsea struggles The German also admitted after the match that his side were never really at the races.
He told Amazon: “That’s not us. We were absolutely not ready today for this match. I missed maybe to find the right approach to make my team ready.
“We had the break due to very sad circumstances – hopefully the person is better. Even this break after the first 11 minutes did not change our approach. We did not cope with the pressure, with the first ball, second ball.
“We had a lot of changes but too many faults. It did not get better. The only thing we could do was hang in there and focus on the easy things. It was a lucky win.
“I see this totally as an exception from the rule. I will not insist too long on this match because it’s so unusual for us to play like this.”
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