With Chelsea’s midfield problems exposed by Leeds, pressure mounts on Jorginho as reports emerge that Sarri is considering signing a new midfielder.
With Chelsea’s midfield problems exposed by Leeds, pressure mounts on Jorginho. The Italian has been at the centre of a lot of criticism recently.
Chelsea found a method to paper over the fractures against Leeds at a time when Christmas wrapping is becoming more important.
Thomas Tuchel’s team won 3-2 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, capping a tough week that saw them lose at West Ham and then be denied top position in Champions League Group G by surrendering a stoppage-time equaliser in Wednesday’s 3-3 draw at Zenit St Petersburg.
They were penetrated twice again tonight, bringing the total number of times they’ve been breached in a week to eight, in yet another clumsy defensive effort that continues to erode Tuchel’s extraordinary defensive record.
In the end, the outcome was crucial, particularly on a day when leaders Manchester City and Liverpool both won 1-0, both thanks to a second-half penalty.
But the fact that Chelsea required two spot-kicks to overcome Leeds encapsulates the increasing perception that they are clinging to the top two’s coattails.
Tuchel stated, “We were fortunate, we needed this.” “We’ve been unfortunate in our past two games, surrendering late goals, so this may be just what we needed.”
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The Blues deserve credit for getting through a tenacious Leeds team who grabbed the lead against the run of play and believed they had stolen a point with an 83rd-minute equalizer.
But, with such a frantic season ahead of him, there was enough to worry about for Tuchel. Chelsea only surrendered multiple goals once in Tuchel’s first 33 Premier League games. They’ve done it twice in the last week, and it’s nearly cost them a fortune.
Chelsea struggled to establish themselves in possession without N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, even with Jorginho healthy to pair Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the center of the pitch.
Leeds looked dangerous on the break, and although winger Dan James fails to match his lightning pace with a finished product, Marcos Alonso did it for him with a poor tackle in the box in the 28th minute.
Raphinha’s penalty was converted, and Chelsea seemed to be spooked. As the home fans became agitated, Reece James clattered Dan James with a late challenge — but Leeds showed that defensive errors are not limited to the home side, losing the ball cheaply to give Chelsea control on the outside of the field.
Illan Meslier, the goalkeeper, lofted a pass towards Stuart Dallas, who let the ball escape him as he chested it down, allowing Alonso to pounce. Mason Mount met the ball with a precise, controlled first-time finish after Timo Werner scooped up the loose ball and supplied Alonso, who crossed to the near post.
The Blues closed the first half aggressively and regained some momentum after the restart, but it took a penalty award just before the hour mark for them to grab the lead.
Raphinha fouled Antonio Rudiger in the area, a call granted after a VAR review, and Jorginho converted, sending Meslier the wrong way.
Chelsea, on the other hand, were unable to finish the game. Joe Gelhardt, who had come in as a substitute seconds before, scored his first Leeds goal with his first touch of the game, turning home Tyler Roberts’ 83rd-minute cross.
Chelsea’s failure to dominate center midfield was to blame. Although Kante’s absence is evident, Tuchel’s frustration with Kovacic’s unavailability, which is now owing to a positive Covid-19 test, is palpable.
Loftus-Cheek has talent, but he lacks the ability to take the sting out of games and handle tight situations, which Chelsea need in this circumstance.
While a result, Jorginho’s burden of duty remains heavy, particularly as he fights an ongoing hip ailment.
Without N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho has a lot of responsibilities in the midfield. AFP/Glyn Kirk
“He’s really crucial — Jorgi truly sacrifices himself for many weeks,” Tuchel added. “I knew there would come a time when he would suffer since he played a Champions League campaign with us, the Euros with Italy, and all of the World Cup qualifications with Italy.”
“Not only did he have to put in a lot of physical work, but he also had to put in a lot of mental effort.” He didn’t have a pre-season and went right into the Super Cup game [in August]. I knew we’d get to a point in the season when he’d be out of shape, but Jorgi is completely unconcerned with the fact that we’re missing Kova and N’Golo, so he makes sacrifices.
“Every day, he gives it his all and works with the physios and medical department for hours on end to get himself in the greatest form possible. It was a tremendous reward for him today since scoring two penalties in one game is not easy.”
Finally, Jorginho was there to make the game-changing decision. To emphasize how desperate things had become for the Blues, the Italian’s 94th-minute penalty was their first Premier League match-winning goal since September 2009.
It happened after Mateusz Klich bundled Rudiger in the box in the box, demonstrating the defender’s continued ability to have an offensive impact. Romelu Lukaku, who was brought in as a late substitution in the 87th minute, cannot be considered to be in the same boat.
Tuchel has intimated that Lukaku may need time to regain full fitness after an ankle injury, but there are fears that rather than being the last piece in a title-winning jigsaw, the Belgian’s arrival has altered the whole picture.
If Chelsea were still as strong defensively as they were previously, this issue would not be as concerning. Tuchel has decided to give his squad a two-day break. They won here and are still in contention with Liverpool and City, but a reset is required.
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