They have set the benchmark – Tuchel wants Chelsea to maintain ambition after West Ham win

set the benchmark
set the benchmark

The Blues boss set the benchmark is demanding no let-up from his players as they continue to challenge on three fronts

Thomas Tuchel says his Chelsea side have “set the benchmark” after their fine form under the German continued with a 1-0 win at top-four rivals West Ham.

Timo Werner scored the only goal to move the Blues three points clear of the Hammers in the final Champions League qualification position.

After an eventful week that also included an FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City, a frustrating home draw with Brighton and the fallout from the aborted European Super League, Tuchel has asked his players to maintain their level of performance, with Real Madrid lying in wait in the Champions League semi-final on Tuesday. The boss said “you sign up to play at the highest level” at Chelsea and urged his men to live up to those ambitions.

What did Tuchel say?

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Reflecting on the result at London Stadium, just the fourth time West Ham have lost at home in the league this season, Tuchel said: “It is significant because it’s so difficult to win here.

“I saw we were very strong in the first half, a very set the benchmark concentrated performance. We had to be so patient and aggressive at the same time because they invite you sometimes to come into their half, to have ball possession. But if you lose the ball easily they can punish you in a second with counter-attacks and set-pieces.

“We didn’t allow that in the first half, we controlled the game, had excellent counter-pressing and closed the spaces for counter-attacks very bravely. So I am very happy about that.

“We were a bit too passive or too deep in the second half for 15 minutes and we instantly suffered because of set the benchmark quality and physicality. We were a bit lucky not to concede from a shot from [Jesse Lingard] but overall it’s a big strength of ours not to concede big chances.

“The team effort is huge and after 15 minutes of the second half, we got the control back in the game and had the chance to have a two-goal cushion, to score a second one and control the game after that.

“At 1-0 it’s always tough until the end but I felt the team was very focused and strong. It’s the best way to arrive in another massive match in the Champions League. The race will go on [in the Premier League] and we have to continue to deliver points.”

The bigger picture

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Only leaders Manchester City picked up more points than Chelsea since Tuchel’s first game in charge back in January, lifting the club from ninth place into the top four.

He has also joined Claudio Ranieri in becoming only the second manager of a Premier League side to go 10 away games unbeaten in all competitions at the start of a reign.

That fine form has secured a place at next month’s FA Cup final and a spot in the last four of the Champions League, with Tuchel determined to ensure his side maintain that momentum through to the end of the campaign.

“All the performances are a benchmark. When we do it now, we want to do it on Tuesday and then Saturday again,” said the former PSG boss.

“Set the benchmark is how we approach our team and how you approach high level sports. You can’t be distracted by too many visions and goals that are too far away.

“I am very happy with the consistency of quality that we can deliver every three days. We play with courage and it is a really high level that we can produce consistently.

“Set the benchmark is what we demand for Tuesday in all different set up, whether FA Cup, league or Champions League. We demand the same level which is full focus and to reach your own highest level and to play at that level.

“We will demand that next season and no matter what we say next season, no matter what the target is. I think the target will then be to win the first match when it arrives and in pre-season we won’t allow anyone to even drop one per cent, not even in friendly matches.

“When you sign up for Chelsea, you sign up to play at the highest level. We have to keep our feet on the ground and work hard. This is what the team feels, they are tired but they feel there are things to improve.

“We are capable of winning and don’t forget you need luck in the match, you need to deserve it of course to have the consistency to win matches. I am happy we have reached this crucial stage of the season like this.”

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