Thank you, Tottenham.
Chelsea, in a make-or-break game which could define their season, decided not to turn up. Champions League football? Nah, where’s the fun in that?
The Blues did their absolute best to throw away all of their hard work from the past five months, but Tottenham, of all teams, refused to let them – and their 4-2 win over Leicester means Chelsea will be playing Champions League football again.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to focus on that. The focus is instead on the fact that Chelsea just dropped their worst performance of the entire season six days before a European final against Manchester City.
How? How can you not turn up for such a big game? How can a professional footballer with aspirations of playing in the Champions League decide that the all-important game was the perfect time to take a breather?
Apart from the solid Thiago Silva at the back, not a single player in blue looked like they wanted to win. The defence were shaky, the forwards were vacant, and the midfielders put in perhaps the most humiliating showing you’ll ever see.
‘Jovacic’, the precarious duo of Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, can combine for some truly outstanding performances, but they also know how to absolutely stink up the place. Unfortunately for Chelsea, the two players in the most influential part of the pitch looked more like saboteurs than anything else.
Neither wanted possession, terrified by the mere sight of John McGinn and Marvelous Nakamba’s high press. They completely fluffed it in attack and saw their defensive frailties exposed far too often.
For the penalty which ended up costing Chelsea the game, it was Kovacic who left his man and started ball-watching, forcing Jorginho out to Bertrand Traore and encouraging the Italian to aimlessly dangle his leg in for no reason whatsoever.
It speaks volumes that Tuchel felt more confident chasing the game with a midfield pairing of Mason Mount (a 10) and Reece James (a right-back) instead of those two.
Weighed down by their midfielders, the forward trio of Mount, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner couldn’t get into the game. Don’t get it twisted, those three were disappointing in their own right, but when your midfield look like they’re trying to make you lose, what can you do?
The only positive to take out of this game in isolation is that we didn’t see N’Golo Kante. All signs suggest the Frenchman, who is battling a hamstring injury, will be back in time for the Champions League final, meaning one of Jorginho or Kovacic can be deservedly thrown back to the bench.
If you’re unsure as to why Thomas Tuchel has reignited Chelsea’s pursuit of West Ham’s Declan Rice, here was your answer. Too often, Chelsea’s midfield is spineless and unable to contribute at either end of the field, whereas Rice always makes a point of giving his all on the pitch.
The midfield horror-show is one of several problems Tuchel must resolve before the City game. His squad didn’t turn up for this crucial game, so what makes you think they’ll fancy themselves against Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions.
This was humiliating from a Chelsea perspective. This was not the performance of a team who deserve to be in the Champions League, but purely because of Gareth Bale, they are.
At the end of the day, the result is technically all that matters, but this performance must not be brushed under the rug. It’s time for an inquest.