Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has given his explanation for substituting Romelu Lukaku in the 1-0 win over Brentford last night.
The Blues boss says that the player had given all he could physically, whilst he felt that a tactical adjustment was needed with his team coming under heavy pressure from the home side in the second half:
“I felt him a bit tired today. Altogether we did a very strong 60 to 75 minutes, including Romelu and Timo. I am not concerned as I felt him a bit tired and then isolated because we were defending as a block too deep. Both of them, Timo and Romelu, were too far away to help us and escape the pressure. That was the problem today. But I have no concerns. Normally, the best thing is he scores but he is very unselfish at the moment, looking for Timo in good situations, and when we had him in the situation it was a close offside decision.”
On the fitness issue, Tuchel’s reasoning makes a lot of sense. There were doubts about Lukaku coming into the game after he was sent home from international duty early due to a muscular problem. He was unlikely to last the 90 minutes.
Tactically, though, the substitution actually played into Brentford’s hands. Chelsea had no one to hold up the ball, meaning every time they cleared their lines, it came straight back at them.
The change ultimately didn’t prove to be costly as the Blues held on for an important win, but most of the credit for that has to go to Edouard Mendy.