Premier League • England

Tuchel makes ‘stupid’ Chelsea point as star’s ‘very strange’ decision questioned

Thomas Tuchel shrugs during Newcastle vs Chelsea, October 2021

Thomas Tuchel has said that it is “stupid” to say that Chelsea are still in the Premier League title race following their draw with Brighton.

The Blues, who started the season strongly with 15 wins from 19 matches in all competitions, have hit a rocky patch. In fact, they have only won four of their previous 10.

The 3-2 defeat to West Ham remains their only loss in that period, but four Premier League draws have seen them go from top of the table to third.

On Wednesday, they fell to a late Brighton equaliser in a 1-1 stalemate after taking the lead. Meanwhile, leaders Manchester City extended their lead at the summit to eight points with victory over Brentford.

Chelsea have not been helped by injuries and coronavirus cases. While Romelu Lukaku has returned in attack, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have injuries.

What’s more, Reece James and Andreas Christensen came off against Brighton with fresh concerns. Timo Werner recently tested positive for Covid-19, while Kai Havertz is only just back from his isolation.

Tuchel therefore told the Evening Standard of the title race: “How should we be in it? We have seven Covid cases, we have five or six players out for six or more weeks.

“How should we compete in a title race? Everyone else who has a full squad, everybody in training has the full power to come through this league. We would be stupid to think we can do it out of Covid and injuries. Just play and everybody would be stupid to do it without 23 fit players.

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“This is the reality, this is where we are and we have to adapt to the demands of the situation which you are in.

“This is what I am saying. I competed very hard for the win at Brighton at home. I don’t know what I can expect from my players in terms of physicality, intensity or minutes.

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“Nobody knows anymore because we have never done something like this. We play trial and error and see what I can do. I will protect my team. We can play better but we need the full squad over weeks and weeks.”

One player who did play against Brighton and who could have done more was Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Hudson-Odoi criticised for Chelsea

Kai Havertz celebrates with Callum Hudson-Odoi during Chelsea vs Malmo, October 2021

The 21-year-old led a two-on-one counter-attack in the second half as Chelsea looked to make it 2-0 following Lukaku’s opener.

Hudson-Odoi tried to square a pass to Mason Mount in the box, but Joel Veltman intercepted.

Gus Poyet told Amazon Prime Video‘s coverage of the match: “I’m surprised he needed to pass. It’s not like he tried to pass over the defender or around him,’ the Uruguayan added.

“He hit the defender straight away. That’s very strange. Normally you miss that pass in behind because the other player is too far ahead of you or you try to play it too clever.

“He didn’t do one or the other. He just hit the defender. Very strange.”

Despite City’s lead at the top, manager Pep Guardiola has ruled out his side as title favourites.