Chelsea Head Coach Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante will miss the game against Aston Villa due to injuries. With most of the Chelsea players returning from national duty yesterday, Tuchel admitted it has been difficult for players to cope with the schedules.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the game Tuchel provided updates on team news, strikers, signing of Saul and Ronaldo’s return to Premier League.
On Saul’s loan signing
“We get to know each other in detail, find out if we’re a good fit. Billy Gilmour was our fourth midfielder last season but with the Covid situation, the Euros and Copa America, I was concerned going into the season with only Jorginho, Mateo and N’Golo. Not because of a lack of quality of character, I’m the happiest coach there can be that we have these three guys, but things are unpredictable. The Club World Cup is in December and nobody knows how many games. If you have one injured, one suspended, you’re in danger to overload players. So we were looking for an alternative and Saul was on the radar for Chelsea for many years. I was fighting for him at other clubs but it wasn’t impossible. So when it was possible to have a loan, we were excited. He was the type of profile we need to give Jorginho and N’Golo the break they need.”
“We have two players out: N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic. N’Golo still suffers a little bit. We will try for N’Golo on Tuesday. That’s looks good. Christian came yesterday on crutches. He has an ankle injury with about ten days.”
On preparations for Aston Villa game
“It still feels awkward and it’s demanding. Normally you build-up a feeling through the week but we only have six/seven players here and maybe you fill it up a little with academy guys. The building was a bit more full yesterday and tomorrow is the first day everyone is back. You lack the feeling and everyone comes from demanding trips and games. But once we enter the video room, I demand full focus and full motivation. If you’re tired accept it. Be focused and motivated to play for Chelsea. This is how I felt the team on the pitch today.”
On Ronaldo’s return
“They were a super hard team to play against and beat last season. They were close to winning a European trophy and finished second place. So they were strong before the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo. I think he will have a huge impact. He is a true champion and has proved at any level, in any year, he can perform at outstanding levels. And don’t forget, he will have an impact everyday with the group, it’s not just goals and assists. This is what we want, guys who bring a new spirit. Guys like Trevor Chalobah, Saul, Lukaku. They are hungry and brings a new feeling.”
On Chelsea’s striker partnership
“I am sure we will find games and solutions where we play with both of them. We have already played with double strikers and Timo and Romelu can be good together. Timo likes to play alongside a reference and Romelu is our reference. The most important thing is he finds his confidence and joy. The players are in charge to take their position and fight for their position. This is where we are. We are happy he scored and played. From here on we go.”
On improving football schedules
“It’s too many games and it doesn’t help the quality of the games. I love watching football and love the quality of the games. I love the games when the players are sharp and fresh. People don’t love the pure amount of games. I don’t know how but a compromise needs to be found to have less games but higher quality to protect the players. Nothing else.”