Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge this evening after Casemiro’s stoppage-time equaliser.
What are you feelings after that, Graham?
“First 30 minutes I thought Manchester United were better and forced us back. We had to adjust a little bit there, try to get another player in the midfield and put a bit more pressure on them. They were building their attacks to easily and driving us back, so we had to adjust that.
“From that point, I thought we did well in the game. We are disappointed of course to concede late but over the course of the game, I think a point is right for us. I don’t think we can sit here and say we deserved to win because we didn’t do enough to win the game I don’t think. But effort-wise, what the boys put in, was amazing. It was a fantastic effort from the players and I am proud of them for that.”
Talk us through your thinking behind the early change you made?
“The sense in the game was that we were getting a little bit overrun in midfield and we needed an extra player in there to create a bit more pressure and stop them building their attacks, and therefore making it harder for us to build ours. It’s just a feeling I had. It wasn’t an easy decision to make at all but the boys responded really well and gave everything.”
You penalty was your first shot on target, was that a worry?
“We were nearly there but lacked the last bits and I think that’s an area, our attacking play, we can say we can do better. It was an intense, hard-fought match against a team in a good moment.
“Everyone has had the schedule they’ve had, so it’s not straightforward, but it’s something we can improve like I said. Spirit, togetherness, effort, the personality of the players, that was amazing.”
It’s two games in a row that Mateo Kovacic has come off the bench, is there a reason he isn’t starting?
“He’s been nursing his knee for all season pretty much and you look at the schedule, it’s Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday and it’s impossible for him to start all the games. We’ve planned for him to have less time than he has but things have conspired so he has been on the pitch. We all know his quality but at the same time, we’ve got to understand the player’s situation as well.”
How much of the result was down to Kepa’s performance today?
“He contributed again. I think as a team, we defended quite well and gave everything – the running power was there. The area we can do better is when we have the ball and attack ourselves. But at the same time, we were playing against an opponent in a good place. So I’m pleased for Kepa that he can help us again; not so many massive chances but still he had a good game.”
Disappointing to hear the homophobic chants that came from the Manchester United away end, especially on Rainbow Laces weekend. Do you have anything to say on that?
“Well, it’s clear that we still have a lot of work to do.”
How serious is the injury suffered by Kalidou Koulibaly?
“He just felt his knee at the back end of the Brentford match. We’re not sure the extent yet but this one was too soon for him.”
Are the injuries in defence a concern now?
“We have to manage the players and deal with what we have. Everyone is challenged at this part of the season, the schedule is relentless so it’s always a balance between sharing the load with the players because they are not robots. They have to deal with the schedule. The boys are in good place in terms of fighting for each other so that is a good start point.”
How receptive do you find the players in terms of your tactical switches?
“It’s not easy to get your message across live because the noise is incredible and you can’t stop the game and say, ‘I want to do this’. Making the substitution helps us a bit. I’ve said it many times, the boys have been so open, so responsible, so open-minded about stuff. They know how to play football, we just need to help them in the game as best we can. It’s not ideal to make the change but I think we needed to in this game.”
Thoughts on Trevoh Chalobah’s performance today?
“I thought he was fantastic, got better and better, grew into the game. He is playing such a lot as well. It’s not easy with [Marcus] Rashford making runs in behind constantly, he’s got incredible pace. So I thought Trevoh did really well.”