Thomas Tuchel addressed the media ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash with Leicester City on Thursday evening.
Chelsea have secured Champions League qualification for next season following Arsenal's defeat at Newcastle United on Monday night.
It takes some of the pressure off of Tuchel's side head into their second to last league fixture of the 2021/22 season, but they will be keen to lock down third spot with a draw all but confirming that exact finish behind Manchester City and Liverpool.
They have already beaten Leicester City this term with a fantastic 3-0 win at the King Power Stadium back in November.
Now it's the home leg and Chelsea will want to quickly put their FA Cup final woes behind them as quickly as possible.
Here's what the Chelsea boss had to say in full in his pre-match press conference:
On Andreas Christensen:
“Not sure yet if he is involved tomorrow and on the weekend. Well, Andreas came in the morning of the match (FA Cup final) to inform me, speak to me. He told me he was not ready to play the match, to start the match and be on the bench. He had his reasons. They stay private and confidential. It was not the first time as you can see over the last weeks that we had some of the same situations. That’s why he did not play regularly over the last weeks. We thought we are in a good progression, development because he played a strong match before the final against Leeds. The conversation took place. We had to respect it. Of course. He has our support still but for tomorrow I am unsure.
“Probably unlikely (for the weekend). It was very short notice before the cup final, not only before this match. Other matches the weeks before. No chance I have a prediction before tomorrow or the weekend.”
On injury news:
“Kai tries today in training. He did individual training yesterday, was not in team training, still a big question mark. Timo is out with hamstring. Ben Chilwell was back in team training which was very, very good news and a big uplift for everybody and well deserved, so nice to see him back in training. Of course not available for the match. Everybody could preview that Kova had a big swollen ankle after the match and did not train yesterday. Not sure he will be available.”
On Ben Chilwell:
“We are desperate to have him back. He’s one of our key players. At the same time we are very impatient and happy that he is back and are looking forward to it, we are excited. At the same time we have to be patient. It was a big injury, a long time since he was out so hopefully he can reach his level as quickly as possible. He will need pre-season, our patience and our support. This will start from July onwards.”
On Andreas Christensen’s absence in FA Cup final:
“I don’t think it’s that he does not want to play, he was not able to play. It’s a big difference. We had more than this conversation but on Saturday morning he finally told me.”
On Leicester City clash:
“My feeling was that the whole season we were in position in one, two or three. Somebody told me for one week we were place number four, I thought we were not. So it’s not a good moment to start now to be fourth. We still have to play for us, our demands, our fans. Most importantly for our expectations and what we demand. We are very happy we secured a top four place, this is what the first target when we start the season, what we play for but still it is two home games and we will do everything to win them for our feeling, our supporters and for a positive end of the season”
On having a conversation with Ruben Loftus-Cheek after FA Cup final:
“No… why? Oh, this (discussion about substitution) was a ten second conversation on the pitch and half a minute after the match. We put Ross in for penalties, it was a penalty decision. I am not sure if he would have been happy to shoot a penalty, he was not on the list and this was due to statistics. Zero hard feelings, zero issue.”
On using next games to build on next season ahead of loanees returning:
“We will not play Conor Gallagher the next two matches! Not sure yet, actually now you ask me. Not sure yet. I am normally used to doing what is best for the next game, not for maybe whatever (the future). The guys that deserve it will play. We have one more training to go and the situation changed slightly for us like you said. We are now safe since Newcastle beat Arsenal, we are safe in the top four. We come from a big cup final, we have players who are out through injury and others who will be out next season. Everybody deserves to play. For example, Toni deserves to play. No need now to not let him play the last matches because he was huge for us and influential so let’s see. Let’s wait and see how everybody feels about it and who is hungry to perform. This will be the most decisive factor in the line-up.”
On how team feel about Andreas Christensen’s ‘behaviour’:
“We had to accept it and we will accept it. I try the best I can to not take things personal and I still believe Andreas wanted to play these kinds of matches, I still believe he could in terms of potential and what he gives to the team, that’s why he was a key player for us. He struggled over the last weeks, as you can see when he was not in the squad or not playing although he was physically available, not injured. That was not completely out of the blue. That’s why it was, yeah, not the ideal scenario for us. We thought we prepared in the best way possible for him in Leeds where he managed a lot of pressure on us in a very impressive way. We thought we had him available. He is a key player. If you arrive in a final against Liverpool you want everybody available which was not the case.”
On reaction to FA Cup loss:
“Still I feel different levels of disappointment after matches and after finals, losses in general. Everybody was very disappointed and sad at the same time. We had again the feeling that we left everything out there so there is a different level of disappointment. Of course we were so close. Arguably, we deserve more in these two finals but Liverpool deserved as well. We had no regrets again. I think this is a level of disappointment, a level of loss where we can get over quickly and continue because you are okay with yourself. That is what we demand of ourselves, of them. Let’s see for tomorrow. Yesterday’s training was good, with an atmosphere we want and looking up front. We had two days off to digest it. We absolutely want to be ready tomorrow.”
On takeover issues:
“Yeah. I am aware but I have no new information and have not been informed about the character of the issues that have obviously arrived. Let’s wait and see. I am still convinced that it is in good hands, not my hands but hopefully good hands and better hands than my hands. Hopefully it will go through as quickly as possible.”
On loan players Armando Broja and Conor Gallagher:
“First of all they will come back because they are our players. When we give them on loan we do this for them but also for us to have better players, more experienced players back. They are our players and I want to have them in pre-season and then we decide what’s going on. It’s heavily linked to them, to how they integrate and what they do and what our ideas are for them and what they want to reach. It’s heavily linked to our sanctions, situation around the club. It is too early to predict the future for them given the role of the whole season but they will be back for pre-season, that’s for sure.”
On summarising the season:
“The season is not yet finished but of course, I refuse to judge the season by two penalty shoot-outs. If we won penalty shoot-outs it would be maybe one of the most successful seasons with four titles. Okay, we lost two penalty shoot-outs, that does not make it less impressive what effort the team put in and what success we installed to reach these finals. We are the first to admit it is not the same to play a final as it is to win a final. We are the first ones to admit that we are here to win trophies, we compete on this kind of level not just to compete but to win. It’s a bit like an imbalance in judging this season given the circumstances starting from a unique season again, struggled with Corona and long-term injuries then comes a situation that nobody could predict. A war that had a huge effect on our club in particular, so in the end I think it’s always the most important to look in the mirror after a season and find out if you gave everything, if everybody lived to their fullest. We did this. That’s why I also told the team after the cup final that I am okay and proud of how we played cup finals and go toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the world at the moment, given our situation of how we arrived there and how we played there. That will not change. There’s always room for improvement, we are the first to admit it. We arrived in this cup game with key players already out, players not available, N’Golo and Mateo with one or only half a training session. Taking this into account with the club sanctions, there are a lot of things that are quite impressive. Hopefully we manage to become third. There is progression in it. We have constantly been in the top three in the toughest league, we now compete with maybe the best teams to ever play in this league. From there we go. Put it into perspective, there is no need to lose sleep after this season but there’s a lot of ambition in us that is not satisfied. From there we go. I think it’s good to admit it. Not be too worried about it that we don’t do this. It is at some level okay, maybe some level very good but there is always room for improvement. We will not relax and give in too early.”
On Leicester City:
“I am not sure I like the term open game so much but they have found their form back and score a lot lately. They had a very up and down season but in their top level they are a dangerous team to everybody. They can hurt you in seconds with quality, speed, attacking mindset and fluid in attack. We will prepare for the very best version of Leicester and we will need the very best version of us to be competitive. I don’t want to predict the game because I don’t know what’s coming. Let’s be open for everything. Hopefully we find answers.”
On judging where club will be on first day of next season:
“We are hoping (to be back to normal) but at the moment we are not. You ask many times if we have a delay in approaching players and making plans, of course a huge delay. We are affected by it, players are going out. We are rebuilding, not improving the squad. We are rebuilding. This is always challenging but we are up for the challenge. I don’t know where we are from day one. What I can promise is that I will be here if I can promise that! I will be here with full energy and positive energy no matter what. We will still work for Chelsea and I refuse to think of negative scenarios. We will be competitive, on which level we will see. On how the delay and sanctions will affect us, there is a risk. It will be very challenging to make up for the disadvantage, given the situation of the other two teams - City and Liverpool who are already improving the squad and set one benchmark after the other in all aspects of the game. Things are not easier for us. Normally I would say we arrive in good spirit and the right mindset on the first day of preparation then we create an atmosphere, work ethic and put all in to be ready on the first matchday of Premier League to win the game.”
On Callum Hudson-Odoi:
“Dropped out of the squad from one day to the other more or less. Still in individual training, progressing but not in team training. He will come early in pre-season like Chilwell to start a programme to be back on 2nd July with team training.”
On what he did on two days off:
“I have to think about it actually. Sunday I did exactly nothing and Monday more or less the same I guess! I did not watch it back yet. Was not ready for it. It does (help) the moment where I feel already on the sideline but also after the whistle that we lived up to the fullest. At this point I can have freedom with it. I will never like the feeling. I am disappointed, gutted. It’s a different level of disappointment. I am not angry, not angry at myself also. It is like, okay we played another 120 minutes and of course we will analyse it again and we will look, it gives us a view of what we are capable of. It was much more positive than negative and anger. I just try to relax physically because we had the chance and did absolutely normal stuff and went on from there to go into the last week where the tension is not the highest around you, you need to take care also about organisation stuff within the club, around the team to fix the dates, talk about pre-season, these things kick in now and take a huge amount of time. This is what we do at the moment. So no looking back to the final, at the moment.”