Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said his side’s dismal 3-0 loss at Leeds had nothing to do with being outpaced by more than 10km.
The Whites put in their best performance under coach Jesse Marsch to dismantle Chelsea, who finished the game with 10 men after Kalidou Koulibaly’s red card.
They received a helping hand when a calamitous goalkeeper play by Edouard Mendy, who was brought down in his own box, allowed Brenden Aaronson to open the scoring in the 33rd minute, before Rodrigo headed in a free kick four minutes later. .
Jack Harrison completed the scoring after the break and the score was sweet reward for the way Leeds chased down their opponents, beating them by 10.5km.
Tuchel, however, said that was not a contributing factor.
“We scored an own goal (Mendy’s mistake) and gave away a terribly cheap set piece. It has nothing to do with pressing, nothing to do with running fewer miles and nothing to do with Leeds style,” he stated.
“We must not confuse the two things. We were able to deal with that style and be the best team and we were able to be in a position to be up 2-0.
“Giving away an own goal and a set piece has nothing to do with it. I don’t see the connection because we lost the game it has to do with Leeds’ style. The two goals that cost us the game had nothing to do with style.
“You think they are 11 km further and that is why they won 3-0. It’s a set-piece and a big mistake, until then we were the ones who created more.
“They run more than us, it has nothing to do with the mentality.”
Things might have been different if Raheem Sterling had scored within the first 40 seconds when he jumped into the box, or goalkeeper Mendy had cleared the ball instead of attempting a tricky spin into his own six-yard box.
Tuchel said Mendy knew more than anyone how costly his mistake was.
“He knows himself. With these kinds of mistakes I don’t think it’s necessary to talk much,” he said. “He knows himself. This has nothing to do with protection, everyone in the world sees that mistake, it’s a big mistake at a crucial moment in the match and it doesn’t help.
“He is the one who is most disappointed, but today it cost us a lot.”
This was a good insight into what Leeds fans can expect when Marsch settles into Elland Road, after guiding them to safety last season.
They are undefeated after three games and early signs are that they will be nowhere near a relegation battle this term.
Marsch, unsurprisingly, disagreed with Tuchel’s assessment, saying his team’s energy was the main cause of the victory.
“A very good performance, the best since I’ve been here,” he said. “It’s really nice to see, not only the result, but I felt like we were the best team.
“Good performance and individually what you start to see is a group of players who understand their roles and believe in what we are doing.
“He (Tuchel) can have his opinion. I think the way we played dictated the match, almost entirely. He limited them, created chances, made them make mistakes.
“We wanted them to feel uncomfortable, we wanted to be aggressive and we wanted to push the game that way and we did.”