Thomas Tuchel says he can “understand” why Chelsea supporters would want to air their frustration at Cesar Azpilicueta after a 4-2 defeat to Arsenal, with the Blues captain conceding a soft penalty when a late equaliser was being sought.
A disappointing derby defeat was suffered by the FA Cup finalists on Wednesday, with Mikel Arteta seeing his Gunners side raise their game at just the right time as they seek to chase down a top-four finish of their own.
Chelsea were still in the game heading into stoppage-time, having already responded positively to first-half efforts from Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe to pull level on two occasions, but their skipper dragged Bukayo Saka to the ground in the closing stages, allowing him to convert from the penalty spot, before becoming involved in an angry post-match exchange with those in the stands.
Did Azpilicueta foul Saka?
Questions were asked at the time of the incident as to whether Saka had grabbed Azpilicueta as much as his own arm was being held.
The decision went in Arsenal’s favour, though, with a VAR review not seeing enough to overturn the on-field decision, and Tuchel concedes that his side shot themselves in the foot.
He told reporters afterwards: “Look at the penalty, it is an unbelievable goal from our ball possession. There's no tactics behind that. We have three ball losses in 10 seconds.
“Then we do a foul where there's not even the slightest danger. We foul a person. It is a penalty and we rob ourselves for six minutes [as we looked] for an equaliser. What is there to analyse? There's nothing to analyse.”
On Azpilicueta’s argument with a supporter at the final whistle, Tuchel added: “I was not part of it. I saw it, but honestly I can understand the fan.”
Why were Chelsea fans frustrated?
Blues fans also took their frustration out on misfiring Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku when he was replaced by Kai Havertz in the second-half, with a £98 million ($128m) asset being booed from the field.
Tuchel was reluctant to be drawn into a debate regarding a striker that he has been giving limited game time to of late, with the German finding it difficult to turn his attention away from a late moment of madness from Azpilicueta.
He said of the jeers aimed in Lukaku’s direction: “Maybe you must ask the fans. You heard it so you need to ask the people.
“With not even the slightest danger we foul a player for a penalty and rob ourselves of the chance to have six minutes maybe for the equaliser. What do you want me to analyse?”
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