Thomas Tuchel admitted Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat against Arsenal was a “wake-up call” after Emile Smith Rowe punished Jorginho’s blunder to dent the Blues’ bid to finish in the Premier League‘s top four. Midfielder Jorginho was guilty of a woefully misplaced back-pass that ended with Gunners youngster Smith Rowe slotting home early in the first half at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel’s side were bereft of quality in the final third as they succumbed to only a third defeat in their 26 matches in all competitions. Chelsea remain in fourth place, but their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish is now on a knife edge.
They sit six points clear of fifth placed West Ham, who have a game in hand, and seven ahead of sixth placed Liverpool, who could be the biggest threat with two games in hand.
“I don’t know how Arsenal would have scored if we didn’t give it to them. We scored more or less an own goal, a total gift,” Tuchel said.
“We were not sharp enough, not the same energy as usual. I’m not happy with what I saw.
“It was maybe too many changes from the last match and I take full responsibility for that. Maybe it’s the last wake-up call for all of us.”
Chelsea’s tepid display was hardly ideal preparation for their attempt to win the first trophy of Tuchel’s reign in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Leicester at Wembley.
“I felt it a little bit coming in training and I’m a bit unlucky that it’s proven today on the pitch,” Tuchel said.
“We had some good results so we have to cope with a loss.”
Beaten for the first time in six league games, Chelsea’s final two top-flight matches against the Foxes and Aston Villa next week now take on extra significance.
That will deny Tuchel the chance to rest players before the Champions League final against Manchester City on May 29.
Eighth-placed Arsenal’s first league double over Chelsea since 2003-04 was a rare bright spot in a turbulent season.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is fighting to persuade the Arsenal hierarchy to keep faith with him after their lacklustre Europa League semi-final exit against Villarreal.
Arsenal are likely to miss out on major European football for the first time since 1995-96.
– Arteta relief –
Against that troubled backdrop, beating in-form Chelsea was evidence that Arteta may yet to be able to revive Arsenal’s fortunes.
“I’m very pleased, we haven’t won here in 10 years so it’s very good to get the result,” Arteta said.
“When you come here against Thomas Tuchel you will suffer, it’s not realistic to come here and think you will play them off the park.
“We were pressing with the right attitude and organisation so you force mistakes. The attitude of the boys and the team was extraordinary.”
Keeping one eye on the FA Cup final, Tuchel made seven changes from the side that won at Manchester City on Saturday.
Kai Havertz was one of those restored to the line-up and the German forward wasted a golden opportunity to put Chelsea ahead when he fired over with just Bernd Leno to beat.
Arsenal made the most of that escape to take the lead thanks to Jorginho’s gift in the 16th minute.
Jorginho carelessly failed to check where Kepa Arrizabalaga was positioned before passing well away from the Chelsea keeper from the edge of the area.
Kepa scrambled to claw the ball off the line, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pounced and teed up Smith Rowe to tap into the empty net.
Tuchel’s men dominated possession but Arsenal defended with a tenacity that eluded them for much of the season.
Chelsea were inches away from equalising in the last minute when Kurt Zouma’s header was tipped onto the bar by Leno before Olivier Giroud’s follow-up cannoned off the woodwork.
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