Thomas Tuchel called the commitment of his Chelsea players into question after a strong Blues side were thrashed 4-0 by Arsenal in a pre-season friendly in Orlando.
Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Albert Sambi Lokonga were on the scoresheet as Arsenal brushed their London rivals aside at the Camping World Stadium.
It was a worrying performance from Chelsea just two weeks ahead of the season considering many of their usual first-team regulars started the game, including Edouard Mendy, Reece James, Jorginho and Mason Mount. New signing Raheem Sterling also featured, while Kalidou Koulibaly was introduced for a 17-minute cameo – his first appearance since signing from Napoli.
“I think we deserved to lose – which is fair enough – because we were simply not good enough,” Tuchel told a post-match press conference.
“We were absolutely not competitive. The worrying part is the level of commitment, physically and mentally, for this match was not the same, it was far higher for Arsenal than us.
“We can argue they played with I think their strongest line-up; they’ve had now together several weeks and for more than one year. They’ve strengthened their line-up, played the same structure, and this is the line-up they’ll try to start Premier League games.
“It was not our strongest line-up and this is part of an explanation, but only a little part. The other part is worrying.
“The analysing of the season does not change because of this game.
“Unfortunately, it proved my point and the last week proves my point. I would prefer to not be right and I did everything to prove myself wrong, but at the moment I feel I was right when I look at the last season and at the parts of the game where we struggled and how we struggled.
“We got sanctioned and players left us, we know that some players are trying to leave us, and this is where it is. We had an urgent appeal for quality players and a huge amount of quality players. We’ve got two quality players – that is no doubt – but we are not competitive like this and unfortunately, we could see it today.”
The result capped an underwhelming pre-season tour of the United States for Chelsea. An unconvincing 2-1 win over Club America was followed with a defeat on penalties to Charlotte.
While pre-season results are often taken with a pinch of salt, Tuchel admits the performances demonstrate that his side is not ready to compete with title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.
“At the moment, given the last two weeks, given our last week and given the game today we should not mention the two teams in front of us,” he said.
“We got, like, absolutely beaten by a team that does not play Champions League next season, that is behind us. And it seems at the moment far ahead of us.”
In contrast, Arsenal have enjoyed an almost flawless pre-season campaign, having also beaten Nurnberg, Everton and Orlando City.
“I’m really happy,’ Arsenal boss Mike Arteta said. “With the performance in general and with the tour.
“The attitude from a club perspective to show here, and all the work we have done and understand how big we are and the amount of support that we get.
“Then obviously the performance today is a really good example again, that we are moving forward, improving a lot as a team, but don’t get carried away. It’s a test match and there are still a lot of things to do to get better.”