Tuchel on a pleasing second-half response, ‘outstanding’ Thiago Silva, ‘unique’ Kante and fitness of Mendy and Pulisic

Tuchel was asked about his change at half-time and what was said in the dressing room…

‘Actually we did not change the system but that’s maybe the whole point. It seems like we changed the system but we just played the system with more belief, energy and quality. It was simply too sloppy in the first half.

‘With N’Golo on the bench, when you want to step up then he’s the best player to bring on because he’s unique and he can change any momentum. We wanted to improve our compactness and ball wins to put the match in the opponent’s half. That was the idea behind it and I’m happy with it.’

Asked to expand on Kante’s impact, the boss hailed his unique qualities…

‘He’s a top player. If you have N’Golo, you have something that everybody is looking for. You have everything that you need in midfield – work-rate, intensity, ball wins, skikful play, off the ball and with the ball, and even a goal today!

‘I see this every day in training and it’s hard to believe how good he is. He’s a unique player. We were strong in midfield together with Jorginho and Kovacic in the second half but N’Golo is N’Golo. He’s fantastic.’

Tuchel spoke glowingly about the performance of Thiago Silva, who turns 37 next week but continues to defy those years…

‘He was outstanding. He almost scored twice and he’s so strong. The delivery was good for his goal and we are very happy that he was able to score and open the game for us today but his performance even in the first half was outstanding. It was a fantastic performance.’

Finally, there was an update on the fitness of Edou Mendy and Christian Pulisic, starting with the goalkeeper…

‘We tried everything throughout the week and yesterday in training but it was so-so. It comes from the last-minute kick against Zenit in the Champions League so it’s very painful and he felt it.

‘He was not 100 per cent comfortable to go for a full stretch or to land on it so we decided to go for 100 per cent, which was Kepa, and have Edou with us to be supportive and to have a good energy. I’m so happy that Kepa played a crucial role today to have a clean sheet because it’s what he deserved.

‘I think for Christian the game against Aston Villa [in the Carabao Cup in midweek] is maybe a bit too close. I hope that I’m wrong but this is my impression. He’s not in training so far but let’s see tomorrow. Maybe if he had a good progression today, maybe it’s possible. It would be super nice for us to have him but for me it’s a bit doubtful.’

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