'Unbelievable': Gary Neville makes claim about the players on Chelsea's bench yesterday


Gary Neville remarked on the number of quality players that Chelsea either subbed on or left out against Tottenham Hotspur yesterday.

Speaking on Sky Sports after the Blues beat Spurs 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, Neville made a point of listing the wealth of names Thomas Tuchel didn’t include in his initial XI.

Tried and tested team

Chelsea began the evening pretty much with the same side that were held by Brighton & Hove Albion just a few days before.

Mateo Kovacic for N’Golo Kante and Malang Sarr for Marcos Alonso were the only changes made by the manager.

This meant the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech and Mason Mount all got an opportunity to redeem themselves from the poor draw away to the Seagulls.

Photo by Chris Lee – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Tuchel also stuck with the back four rather than his customary defensive trio but shifted from a 4-2-2-2 to a 4-3-3.

This certainly helped to enhance certain performances, most noticeably Ziyech – whose display was arguably his best ever for the Blues – and Hudson-Odoi.

Talent as far as the eye can see

Sticking with pretty much the same personnel meant Kante, Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, Saul Niguez and Kai Havertz amongst others were placed in the wings.

Most of them watched on as Chelsea triumphed over Tottenham, witnessing a piece of magic from Ziyech and Thiago Silva’s header just before the hour mark.

Kante, Marcos Alonso and Saul Niguez all came on in the final 20 minutes with the three points pretty much sealed, another sign of the gulf in class between the European holders and their defeated guests.

Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

“I named at the end, there were four people left on the bench that would be in any other first-team probably in the country. And that’s having made three substitutions,” explained Neville.

“An unbelievable squad. They’ve got a massive squad. I just read them out at the end there who was left on the bench, having played 11 players a made three substitutes

“They’ve still got Pulisic, Werner, (Trevoh) Chalobah and (Ross) Barkley and Havertz on the bench, that’s five.

“That means they played the team that started and they brought on Kante, Alonso and Saul.

“What a squad. That’s like two world-class teams. So, I just don’t feel that’s an excuse when you’ve got the squad of Chelsea.”

Sleepy Chelsea

The excuse in question is one about tiredness.

After the Brighton match, Tuchel said his squad had been feeling the effects of the congested fixture schedule.

“We were mentally tired and physically tired,” admitted the German coach.

“It’s not just about playing, it’s about travelling and sleeping.”

In response to the team’s apparent state of fatigue, he gave them two days off before Spurs journeyed across town on the weekend.

Clearly, the extra rest period benefitted Chelsea, as they looked fresher and hungrier than Antonio Conte’s men.

Can we feel sympathetic for the Blues?

Some will debate whether the Champions League holders needed a rest, considering the plethora of talent at their disposal.

Tuchel could’ve easily made another six or seven alterations and still fielded a team able to challenge Tottenham.

Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

However, who are we to argue with the coach’s methods when they produce results like the one on Sunday.

A few will be rewarded with another mini-break whilst the international calendar kicks into gear, before the domestic campaign gets under away again in just under a fortnight.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.