Congratulations on the win, Thomas. N’Golo Kante continues to surprise us but does he surprise you?
“Yes, but let’s say it [this performance] was not building up in the last weeks. He had some problems finding his strengths and his rhythm after his injury and after he was out for some games.
“Today he was back at the top level, got better every minute throughout the game, and instantly it has a huge impact.
“But this is not a surprise. We were waiting for it for some games now and today he found his rhythm, had a huge impact and had an absolutely top performance.”
Did your side feel a bit more fluid today?
“Through periods, yes, we had very strong periods. For example, the first ten minutes. At the moment we also have, in the same games, periods where it’s totally gone from one second to another. Easy ball loses, a lack of fluidity, bad decision making. But then we recover from it and have a strong phase again.
“This is a bit the story at the moment but there were very good things in it. If we can maybe keep it up at the level and make the good minutes longer and a bit more consistent, this is maybe the next step. It was a very well prepared opponent today, tactically very well prepared and very physical
“It was necessary to step up and to be mentally tough and defensively super solid. This is what we did. We did not allow big chances and it gave us a good feeling through the whole match.”
Romelu Lukaku was the only unused substitute not to undertaken the post-match fitness session, was that something you planned?
“I don’t actually know. The fitness guys take care of that. I’m not involved in that.
“They have my full trust and I’m sure they have a reason why he was not out. We have individual programmes for every player so I guess that is the plan for him.”
Thought on Kai Havertz’s performance?
“I’m very pleased. Kai is very strong for weeks now, really steps up. His effort is immense, the work rate is immense, the areas of the pitch he covers for us is very, very good. He was decisive, created chances, was involved, and was never shy of defending.
“We had a very aggressive high line today on the pitch with the offensive three players together. The formation was to have intensity, a high work-rate consistently throughout the whole match and they did all very good.”
You said ahead of the game the reason Lukaku was out of the side is that he was tired, so will he play in the Carabao Cup final?
“Every game is different. The focus today was on intensity and a high-speed game. It was about hard work against the ball, off the ball and have intensive teamwork. Romelu struggled in the last few games a little bit to deliver that. That’s what I meant when I felt him a bit tired both mentally and physically.
“Since the Liverpool game, he started every match and there were some extra times as well. Yes, it is like this. Today, we went for three other players with Kai in great shape, very confident and giving a lot of work rate in high intensive metres for the team.
“Yes, for the team the decision doesn’t need to be made today but can be in the next four days. He [Lukaku] has every chance to play.”
Were you also protecting Lukaku by putting him on the bench?
“Yes also [that], It was not the moment after the match where everybody was focused on the few touches that he had to put him right into the next fire. It was the moment to take a step back. That was the decision and that’s it.
“You can clearly see we have a strong win and strong performance. It was a tough match and almost every question is about Romelu. The focus is huge. There were nine other players who did not play.
“We should never forget we consider this sport a team sport and the eleven guys who play do everything to commit fully to what we plan and to commit fully to their teammates and those on the bench have to do the same and this is how it works.
“Especially at Chelsea and especially for us and this is how we win football matches.”
Thomas, you got so animated during the first half that you lost your chewing gum, so you can’t have been all happy?
“I was shouting and chewing at the same time and this is not the combination. Normally I catch it. I did not catch it. Something to laugh about.”