Thomas Tuchel backs Bukayo Saka in penalty row after Arsenal star said he “had to go down”

Bukayo Saka won a late penalty in Arsenal’s win over Chelsea which left Blues captain Cesar Azpilicueta fuming but Thomas Tuchel has backed the referee’s decision

Thomas Tuchel didn't take issue with Arsenal's late penalty
Thomas Tuchel didn’t take issue with Arsenal’s late penalty

Thomas Tuchel looks to have sided with Bukayo Saka after bemoaning his Chelsea side for giving away a penalty in their defeat to Arsenal.

The Gunners were leading 3-2 when they were awarded a spot kick late into the game after Cesar Azpilicueta was judged to have fouled Saka. The Blues defender was left fuming after the pair grappled in the area before the winger went down calling for a penalty.

Opinions were split regarding the decision with Saka converting the penalty to seal the contest at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel, rather than taking issue with Jonathan Moss’ call, instead lamented the manner in which his side conceded the penalty in what was a frustrating night.

He said: “Then we do a foul where there’s not even the slightest danger. We foul a person, it is a penalty, and we rob ourselves of six minutes for an equaliser. What is there to analyse? There’s nothing to analyse.” Saka was adamant following the game that Azpilicueta had fouled him, but he needed to hit the deck if he was to get the decision.

“Of course [Azpilicueta] is going to be angry with me but it is what it is. It was a penalty,” said the Arsenal man on Sky Sports. “He was holding me for five seconds. I had to go down.” It was the first time Saka had stepped up to take a penalty since he missed in the Euro 2020 final shootout.

Mikel Arteta hailed the character of his superstar as a result. He said: “For him to have the courage to take the penalty, because I’m sure it was in the back of his mind, it took great character and courage. I’m so proud of the players and the way they reacted. It was a mentally really demanding game after everything we’ve been through in the past few weeks.”

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea FC tackles Bukayo Saka of Arsenal awarding Arsenal a penalty during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on April 20, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Was Saka lucky to get a penalty vs Chelsea? Let us know in the comments

Tuchel was particularly scathing in his criticism of Chelsea and their performance. The Blues have now lost their last three on the bounce at Stamford Bridge following defeats against Real Madrid and Brentford with the German taking aim at individual errors.

He said on Sky Sports: “We scored five goals and lost 4-2. Three own-goals and two regulars goals for us. I cannot remember any mistakes like these in our favour. We don’t get these goals we give them away in consecutive games.

“Second-half was nowhere good enough. Individually, how we conceded the goals it is dramatic mistakes, individual mistakes. We decided to give away a goal for absolute nothing – we did the same against Real Madrid and against Brentford.”

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