They say you learn more from defeat than from triumph. If that is the case, Chelsea got a diploma after playing West Brom on Saturday morning.
A game in which the Blues were expected to win turned sour shortly after taking a 1-0 lead. Thiago Silva’s red card completely changed the game around and the Baggies took advantage of the 11 v. 10 hour-long affair.
Here are three lessons we learnt during the embarrassing defeat:
1. Some players should lose their spots
Playing with 10-men is never an easy task, but some players performed as if Chelsea had eight-men on the field. The likes of Jorginho and Timo Werner should be on the bench for the foreseeable future because of the disgusting displays by each of them.
First is Jorginho, who made no effort in helping the team. When the Blues started the second half, one goal and one man down, the team pushed for an equalizer. The only player that failed to make any contributions was the Italian. Every time he received the ball, he made the same 5-yard pass, which slowed the attack every time without fail.
What was even more frustrating is the fact that he allowed West Brom to close the gaps quickly. Instead of getting in good positions, or running with the ball, Jorginho opted to make life harder for himself and teammates.
Chelsea struggled to play from out of the back for most of the match and the vice captain’s incompetency on the day is a huge reason as to why. To make matters worse, he was closer to receiving a yellow card than stopping the opposition every time he went in for a challenge.
Always one move behind, Jorginho failed to make any significant tackles that could prevent West Brom’s counterattacks. His substitution should have come at halftime, not when team was on its last legs.
Second, Werner, whom cannot be trusted to lead the line any longer. For a second, I really expected him to score with Chelsea playing on the counter. Werner made good runs and was alert the entire match, but all that effort counts for nothing if a player cannot score even when playing to his strengths. The German international had little-to-no contributions to the team.
Aside from his 3-yard assist on a pass to Mason Mount—one which many spectators believe he himself should have scored—Werner failed in all aspects of his game. Chelsea was playing a counter attacking game, and West Brom allowed Werner the space to run. Even then, he failed to make anything happen.
Now, this is not to put the game on his shoulders, as everyone is to blame, but the fact remains. Chelsea cannot afford to reward such performances from a striker at the expense of simply trying to boost his confidence.
2. Thomas Tuchel got the two substitutions wrong
At halftime, Tuchel made the decision to take off Pulisic—who had scored the first goal of the game.
The American could have been the key to turn the game around. However, Tuchel opted to allow the likes of Jorginho and Marcos Alonso to stay on the field, meanwhile shattering Pulisic’s morale and confidence.
Now, the Mason Mount substitution was needed, but not for Pulisic. This was the type of game to risk it all for a win. Keeping Pulisic in the attack with Werner and Mount as support would have made the difference. Instead, Tuchel opted for a more conservative approach, which only lead to a humiliating defeat.
There were rumors following the match that the substitution was forced because of a minor injury to the 22-year-old. If that’s the case then the German manager is off the hook for the second switch, worrying all the same though.
The second mistake was bringing Kai Havertz in the 72’ with only 10-men on the field and a score of 4-2. The Chelsea players knew not much could have been done in this match, West Brom were sitting deep and playing on the counter.
Meanwhile, the Blues struggled in all attacking aspects. Should Tuchel have decided to bring Harvetz earlier, the score may have shifted in Chelsea’s favor. An attack-minded substation is a green light from a manager to go and get the win at all costs.
In this case, Tuchel denied the team of the opportunity by leaving the substitution this late.
3. Mateo Kovacic was the only player fighting
This sentence is usually reserved for the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, but this time, it is given to Mateo Kovacic: he was the only player fighting for a win. It was an outstanding performance by the Croatian in every aspect.
The entire match Chelsea was fixated on playing from the back, even with 10-men, which lead to nervy instances. However, Kovacic managed to dribble out of two and three opponents without losing the ball on more than a couple of occasions. This allowed for teammates to be left unmarked, or with enough space to make runs.
Furthermore, he was the only midfielder pulling the strings for the attackers. Kovacic played the correct ball at all times; he saw the opportunities in the wide areas. Perhaps more impressively, he saw the gaps through the heart of the defense.
Kovacic hardly lost possession, was willing to drop deep to retrieve the ball and even took some shots at goals since no one else would. He was the only bright spot on an otherwise gloomy day.
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