Thomas Tuchel admitted his Chelsea side put in an “unusual performance” after Hakim Ziyech’s winner kept them top of the Premier League following a match that was temporarily halted after a medical emergency in the stands.
Chelsea won a hard-fought game 2-1 after a Watford fan suffered a cardiac arrest 12 minutes into the match. Medical staff from both teams raced across the pitch to assist the supporter, who was stabilised and then carried out on a stretcher to be taken to hospital.
When the match resumed it was Chelsea who took the lead, with Mason Mount stroking the ball past Daniel Bachmann after 30 minutes.
However, the visitors’ advantage did not last long and Emmanuel Dennis fired an equaliser into the bottom corner just before the break, only for substitute Ziyech to slot the ball past Bachmann to secure maximum points deep into the second half.
“(It was a) very sloppy and it was a very unusual performance for us,” Tuchel said after the game. “I had the feeling we were not ready.
“I have to get the team ready and obviously I didn’t prepare them for what was coming because for the first time we were completely underperforming as a team.
“We did not cope well with the first balls, we did not cope well with the pressure and we did not cope well with the second balls.”
He added: “It was a very unusual performance for us so I think today that I will not like to focus long on this match because we play on Saturday again and there are some reasons that did not make it easy for us.
“Watford played with a lot of enthusiasm and we struggled in the basics. I don’t know why but it was like this.
“We are in this together and we got a lucky win today.”
The players were off the pitch for around 25 minutes before returning to the field for a five-minute warm-up and the match resumed with the clock set at 12 minutes.
When asked about the incident, Tuchel said: “All the best from us, all thoughts from Chelsea and from the dressing room. Hopefully everything is going well – that is the most important thing.”
Watford manager Claudio Ranieri believes his side deserved at least a point after pushing the league leaders all the way through the match.
The players have returned to the field in preparation of play resuming.
Our thoughts are with the fan – who had a cardiac arrest but has now been stabilised – and all those affected.
Thank you to the medical staff, players and fans for their quick response. 💛 pic.twitter.com/wa3QfyF0Em
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) December 1, 2021
“What can I say? It’s unbelievable what happened, but that’s football,” said the Watford boss.
“I’m very satisfied and very proud of my players and we must continue this way.
“I think we deserved at least a point, we played very, very well. I’m very proud of my players, that’s it.”