Chelsea have failed to win any of their last four Premier League games; the Blues drew 1-1 against Brighton ahead of Sunday's visit of Tottenham, live on Sky Sports; Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel: "You could see we were mentally and physically tired."
Wednesday 19 January 2022 12:52, UK
Thomas Tuchel says his Chelsea players looked "tired" in the 1-1 draw against Brighton and need some days off ahead of the Super Sunday showdown against Tottenham, live on Sky Sports.
It was an often lethargic performance from Chelsea as they took a point from the Amex Stadium, with Hakim Ziyech's first-half strike being cancelled out by Adam Webster's free header.
Chelsea are winless in their last four Premier League outings, drawing three, and missed the chance to go above Liverpool into second.
Asked to explain the recent poor league form, Tuchel replied: "I answered this question a hundred times, if you look at our situation of long-term injuries, of key players injured, and of Covid and you look at our schedule you will have the answer.
"We are mentally tired and physically tired, you can see it in our performance, it's as easy as that. We need to recharge the batteries, we need to reconnect.
"This is my feeling, that's why I give the players two days off and then we will use Friday and Saturday to prepare for Sunday."
When later asked how much his team needed two days off, he added: "So, so badly. You can say it's an excuse but it's like this.
"Look at our schedule when we arrived at Man City, we had Carabao Cup in between, they did not. When we arrived here, they had more days to prepare. We've played like this since November, we are the team that plays and plays and plays."
It was not the performance Tuchel will have wanted ahead of their match against bitter rivals Tottenham - live on Sky Sports - who they recently beat over two legs in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
Spurs have a whopping five games in hand over Chelsea after a string of recent Covid postponements, adding an extra dimension of pressure for the Blues as they look to halt their recent slide.
Tuchel admitted that it had been a tough trip to Brighton, but given the circumstances, he could not be upset with his players.
He said: "We have to respect the opponent - it's very tough to play at Brighton. They played it like a cup game and the noise at the end of the whistle was like if we lost the game and it can very easily give you the impression that we lost, but we didn't.
"Other teams will struggle to get points here, and it's even tough if you're full strength and not tired. There are some obstacles to overcome here and I refuse to be angry because it's not about the ambition.
"We were a bit lucky to be 1-0 ahead and you can take advantage to score a second one, but we struggled to show the quality. We know the reasons behind it and we demand a lot from us. But it's not the moment to be too harsh on the team."
Sky Sports' Charlotte Marsh at the Amex Stadium:
"It has to be said that Tuchel is not the first manager to have pointed towards a hectic football schedule as a reason for below-par performances or results. Jurgen Klopp has been recently outspoken over the festive scheduling, and has previously asked the Liverpool U23s to stand in for senior fixtures due to fixture congestion.
"And it's true that Chelsea have been busy of late. Tuchel pointed to their schedule being packed since November and he is right - their last extended break was over the November international break. Even then, the majority of Chelsea players would have still been playing for their countries.
"They have played a game roughly every three days since and have also not had any games postponed in the recent spate of Covid cases in the Premier League - their match against Brighton was rearranged due to their appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup.
"Their lethargy certainly showed against Brighton too. The Seagulls surpassed their energy levels across the pitch and matched them for attacking stats. Considering the talent at Tuchel's disposal - and the price tags they come with - it's a concern that of their 15 shots, only three were on target.
"Some critics may say that despite the schedule, this is a footballers job that they are well paid for. Chelsea will always be challenging in the latter stages of competitions and aiming for titles, with Tuchel having a deep, expensively assembled and incredibly talented squad at his disposal to be able to do so.
"But, all things considered, footballers are not machines and eventually, everyone needs a rest. Chelsea were recently without a plethora of players - Reece James and Ben Chilwell remain out - and have played some while not really fit to do so. With sufficient time to recover, this dangerous risk would not have been needed and again, Chelsea are not the only team to have had to do so this season.
"Their form reflects it too. Only a few months ago, Chelsea were lifting the Champions League trophy - the talent it takes to do so does not just drop away. But even the best players can take a knock to their confidence.
"Chelsea are winless in their last four Premier League outings, including a huge blow to their Premier League title hopes last weekend against Manchester City, so it's easy to see where Tuchel's argument stems from.
"He said that his team will now have two days of rest before they begin preparing for a huge clash against Tottenham this weekend. But there is one thing for sure - Chelsea will need to bring their A game against Spurs because the fans will not let them get away with any less than their best. Here's hoping the upcoming rest helps them rediscover their league form."