Thomas Tuchel admitted to Goal that bringing Kurt Zouma back in for Chelsea against Southampton was an eleventh-hour call but one that paid off.
The Frenchman was making just his second Premier League start since the beginning of January and his first under Tuchel.
He gave a good impression of himself in defence and was one of the few positives to emerge from the game.
His coach echoed this sentiment, but confessed Zouma’s inclusion was a last-ditch decision.
“Today I learned a lot of positive things about Kurt Zouma in his performance which was very positive,” said Tuchel.
“We decided it late to put him on the pitch.”
“He had a good game. He was present and clear in his actions. He fulfilled his role at the top level, very very good. With Kurt and N’Golo (Kante), I am very happy.”
It was a strange afternoon at Saint Mary’s for the Blues. They lacked any real ruthlessness going forward but still managed to draw 1-1.
Arguably their brightest moments came when Callum Hudson-Odoi was on the pitch and linking with Mason Mount. That wasn’t for long, considering Tuchel substituted Hudson-Odoi on then off again in the space of 30 minutes.
Chelsea’s unbeaten run under continued to seven games, although they slipped out of the top four following West Ham United’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Overall, it was a mixed bag of emotions for the Blues.
Especially for Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham.
Both were hauled off before the final whistle and were publicly criticised by their manager afterward.
This was not an ideal warm up for Chelsea’s Champions League clash versus Atletico Madrid tomorrow night.
Diego Simeone’s troop won’t need an excuse to pick apart the fragilities left in their opponent’s ranks.
Tuchel must regroup his squad and clear any negative emotions if they are to overcome the La Liga leaders.
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I must admit, Zouma’s display went under the radar for me.
So much emphasis was on Chelsea’s attack that very little was placed on their defensive work.
So credit where credit’s due because Southampton didn’t really offer much more than the Blues.