Thomas Tuchel refused to criticise his Chelsea players after revealing the main reason for his side’s under-par display in their 1-1 draw at Brighton on Tuesday evening.
The Blues’ unconvincing form continued as their winless run stretched to four Premier League games following an entertaining draw against a fired-up Seagulls side down on the south coast.
Hakim Ziyech fired the European champions into a first-half lead at the Amex Stadium with a low strike against the run of play.
But the third-placed Blues were second best for much of the evening and could have few complaints about stand-in Seagulls skipper Adam Webster levelling with a thumping 60th-minute header.
Chelsea topped the table as recently as the start of last month but have spectacularly fallen out of title contention having now won just two of their nine top-flight outings since.
Thomas Tuchel’s men struggled for cohesion and fluidity throughout their visit to Sussex, with record signing Romelu Lukaku once again ineffectual before being withdrawn 10 minutes from time.
Title hopes all but over
The out-of-sorts Blues, who suffered a damaging weekend loss at leaders Manchester City, are now 12 points adrift of top spot, having also played a game more.
What a strike! 💥
Hakim Ziyech’s powerful hit finds the bottom corner and gives Chelsea the lead 👊 pic.twitter.com/5VrjphG8tJ
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 18, 2022
And speaking after the game, Tuchel told BT Sport: “We looked tired and we are. It’s like this. We knew they were well prepared, had more time to prepare. You saw at the end that the stadium celebrated like it was a victory. That is what you face. We tried everything but you could see we were mentally and physically tired.
“We need some days off. The boys need some days off there is no other solution.
Brighton tough to control
“I did not see many teams control Brighton over 90 minutes. They play brave and bring people to your box to create chances.
“Of course if you can take a half-chance for a second goal you can go out and win and this is what we normally would be up to. At the moment it is difficult to be too harsh on our players as I know what is going on.
“I am happy. He can score 20 more and not celebrate I have no problem. It’s normal that they talk, are not happy and don’t like it if we say we want more from them. Even in the reaction for the goal you can see they are tired. It is relief. That is my feeling of the team just now.”