Thomas Tuchel has told Chelsea to ‘toughen up’ following a 2-1 Premier League defeat at Southampton.
Romeo Lavia and Adam Armstrong fired Saints to a well-deserved victory at St Mary’s Stadium, inflicting Chelsea’s second defeat in their first five league meetings.
Raheem Sterling netted his third goal in two games to give Chelsea an early lead but the visitors’ dominance evaporated in worrying fashion as Saints cruised to victory.
Frustrated Chelsea boss Tuchel lamented two “sweet, sweet, sweet” goals, before challenging his players to toughen up their minds.
“We are not strong enough to win these matches at the moment, away from home,” Tuchel said.
“It’s a bit the same story as at (the 3-0 defeat at) Leeds. At Leeds we thought the problem was that we didn’t score in the first 20, 25 minutes.
“They threw us off balance with two goals in two minutes at Leeds and we couldn’t find answers.
“Today we scored so we thought everything was fine, but one more free kick, sloppy defending again, and we’re off balance.
“And today, we didn’t react to it; we were lucky not to concede the third goal.
“We weren’t tough enough as a team to react or push him over the line for us.”
Winner of the Match™️🔥— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 30, 2022
Asked to take stock of the goals conceded by Chelsea, Tuchel continued: “Soft, soft, soft. What stops that? Stop it out of sheer mentality. Stop it out of sheer mentality.
“There is no superiority for the opponent, there is no need to shoot, there is no need.
“You just have to toughen up as a team. And show the mentality. This is my report today.
“I don’t like to talk about it normally because you can’t prove it with the data, the position of the body or with the tactical position in the event of a defeat. But that’s how it is.
“Both goals are cheap goals, soft goals, and shouldn’t happen if you expect to win a Premier League game, a night game and an away game.
“With our demands and the ambitions we have, it’s all the more important if there are key players missing that we have to show a different mentality.
“It’s not enough at the moment to be beaten at Southampton. There’s no shame in that, we’re humble enough to accept that we could lose football games.
“But it’s too easy to push us off the track, it’s too easy to win challenges, it’s too easy to bully us.”
Southampton toasted a famous victory, with a boisterous crowd delighted to overthrow the 2021 Champions League winners.
Defender Armel Bella-Kotchap summed up the Saints’ youthful exuberance with a fine and demanding performance, to leave manager Ralph Hasenhuttl delighted.
“When you see the physical quality he has, it’s perfect for the Premier League,” Hasenhuttl said. “And that’s what we were hoping for this summer.
“I wondered more if he had the right mindset, but it seems the Premier League is so interesting for him and he is fully focused.
“The atmosphere tonight was sensational. It carried us into the last 15 minutes where we were under pressure at times.
“Everything is very positive except for a worrying hamstring injury for Romeo (Lavia), who hopefully won’t be out for too long.”