Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has said that his team ‘can play better’ than they did during Thursday night’s 1-0 FA Cup fifth round win over Barnsley, suggesting that the players lacked ‘courage’ against the Championship side.
There were 10 changes to the Chelsea team that beat Sheffield United in the Premier League last weekend, with only centre-back Andreas Christensen keeping his place from one to the next. But it was still a strong Chelsea side that laboured at times against the mid-table second tier team.
Tammy Abraham scored the only goal of the game at Oakwell midway through the second half when he turned in a close-range effort from Reece James’ ball across the six-yard box. Chelsea’s striker also turned defensive hero later on, clearing a would-be Barnsley equaliser off the line.
Tuchel, who has overseen a positive upturn in results since taking over from the sacked Frank Lampard last month, said he didn’t want to be too critical but conceded his team could have performed at a higher level than they did.
“We scored the goal and I had the feeling that they increased the risk, but we stepped down in the little decisions,” Tuchel told BBC Sport.
“Not enough courage and it was too deep for a long, long time. We clearly can play better, so I expected more but not in terms that I am frustrated. We can do better but I don’t want to be too hard on the players.”
Chelsea advanced to the quarter-finals as a result of the win and will host Sheffield United at home as they seek to lift the FA Cup for the ninth time in their history. It is the fifth time that the Blues have reached at least the quarter-finals in the last six seasons.
For Abraham personally, it was a fourth FA Cup goal of the campaign after netting a hat-trick against Luton in the previous round. He had also already scored against Barnsley this season, netting in a 6-0 Carabao Cup win against the Tykes back in September.