Thomas Tuchel addressed the media ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday night.
Chelsea come into the match off the back of a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad and currently sit third in the table.
Danny Welbeck's late equaliser last month saw the points shared as Brighton snatched a draw at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture, with Chelsea hoping to take all three at the American Express Community Stadium on Tuesday.
Here's what the Chelsea boss had to say in full in his pre-match press conference:
On team news:
“Good question, we train later. I think we have no re-injuries, maybe the good news. No new injuries. This is the good news but I think nobody is coming back for tomorrow's game.”
“The match itself and the opponent is a challenge itself. I have personally never played there but I have seen a lot of matches and played two home matches against Brighton. They have a very unique style of playing, strong squad, strong coach with a strong belief in what they are doing. There are a lot of things to be aware of, what we need to do in the best level possible. It’s the third away match now in a row. We are still only two days after the match at City. It’s a mix between recovery and preparing for the match tomorrow. I truly believe we need all our mental and physical capacity to be able to win. We want to win and are expecting a tough match.”
On teams ‘abusing’ fixture postponements:
“I would not say so. I know what you mean but I feel strongly that we need clarity and consistency in the decision making. Maybe we lack this a little bit otherwise you would not ask these questions in a press conference to a coach that was not even involved. I am voting for clarity and consistency in the game postponements.”
On Armando Broja:
“He is our player and he is doing good. But at the same time it is only half the season. He needs to continue to improve and to make his statement at Southampton. We have a reason why they are our players. They have quality, mentality. They are now out there on their own in different environments, different clubs and proving themselves. Armando is getting better and better. He is a very unique player with some very unique strengths in his game. His speed, he is robust. He is a goal scorer. First of all it is not the moment to discuss about summer. It is the moment for him to stay calm and keep on improving. ”
On expecting more from Romelu Lukaku:
“We expected more from our whole offensive performance in the last match. I think we had enough offensive actions, transitions, to hurt Manchester City more than we did. If that answers your question, maybe not to 100 per cent! He is included in our offensive performance. He is a key player so there will always be pressure. No more pressure than he puts on himself. We need to find a mix between the expectations, the pressure and still also to be relaxed enough to play your best game because it is not only about pushing and squeezing, not only about demands but also about feeling peace and relaxed on the pitch. Things will fall in its place when we keep on working hard.”
On how Premier League can make Covid regulations more transparent:
“I don’t need to know it but maybe you need to know it, maybe the fans need to know it. I believe in the rules still because if I start doubting or not believing, where does this end? I need to have proof then, which I don’t have. I need to be more involved, look deeper into the decision making and into the games that are postponed which I will never do. I simply don’t have the time or want to spend the energy. You should figure out what you need to have clarity. For me it is pretty easy, I get the information and then I accept it because what else is there? I don’t lose my energy with decisions I have zero influence in.”
On changing style to help Romelu Lukaku:
“No, we do everything to help him. It is absolutely the wrong question because it is focusing on one player. He is a key player and we want him to be a key player but this is for me the wrong approach. This is what we do by the way constantly, for any player. It’s a team sport, not about ten players serving one player. This is not Chelsea or football. Every player serves one team, this will never change. ”
On first year at Chelsea & wanting to extend stay:
“I don’t even know to be honest (if there is a clause to extend). I have a contract until 2024 I think. Let’s stay with this! Let’s try to stay as long as this contract says. The history tells us it’s not that easy! I feel very confident I can make it, I don’t want to be nowhere else. This is absolutely sure. I feel very happy. Everybody knows you need results. I am responsible for creating an atmosphere that gives us the results so all the focus is into the process and not into the result. What counts for games counts for my personal situation the same. I had no time to assess the year. This is maybe very good news because I am not the person to look back, feel great about the past. I am a person to take care about today and make tomorrow's life easier. This is how I feel good, this is how I work, this is what I do. Hopefully many more years to come but the only thing to influence it is to be good in the very moment and this is what we try.”
On Covid-19 rules:
“It’s a good question actually to force me into saying something that I might regret! It’s actually for you guys, I get asked consistently and I think other managers get asked. I think this is simply not a question for managers or coaches. If you get these questions all the time it is obviously not enough clarity in decision making. I can just repeat myself, I am voting for clarity and consistency in decision making. That’s it.”
On Chelsea’s title chances:
“If I say no now you will maybe think well, but can he read the fixture. What’s wrong with him? If I say yes maybe you will doubt my ability to be coach of Chelsea and think did I give up. It’s a tough one.”
”Maybe to not make the problem bigger, to not focus on our problem and to not have enough points we can simply admit City are in a very strong place. The points they have and get in the last 12 matches is 100 per cent. They earn what they have and this is first of all I think necessary to admit. The second thing, we will never give up. Never, never, never. I told you many weeks before, we are in a good place because we are in the middle of the race, maybe not anymore. We are still in the race. We have to take care of ourselves in the moment. We can do nothing more. That’s all for now. We cannot get lost in it. It cannot lower our ambition. It simply cannot. We are committed to our goals, our behaviour. This is what we have to show now. A relentless spirit. This is quite the task for us. It cannot lower our ambition, our commitment in how we play and train or what we give.”
“They are a tough side to beat, a tough team to play against. This is the first time for me to play them in their stadium. They are not shy to play one on one, high pressing. Maybe that answers part of the question. You have to win challenges not only defensively but offensively. You have to make a point, to prove yourself, to step up and show quality to be ready no matter what. We will face a brave and very unique, strong opponent. If we want to win we need to be top level.”
On Brighton game rearranged / playing on Tuesday:
“Very hard to understand. I think Petr Cech gave our opinion on that, the clubs opinion and our teams opinion. I strongly agree with Petr on that.”
“It has nothing to do with [match vs] City. Three away games in a row, both Brighton and we have our next game on Sunday so there was no need to put it on a Tuesday. (One day more) would have (made a difference). Brighton played on Friday so makes a huge difference for them also.”
“We have the schedule that we have. We played in some competitions and hopefully some competitions will stay with us. We have some to come, some extra games so yeah. We have this Brighton game now because we are in Abu Dhabi playing the (Club) World Cup. It is squeezed in this week. Last week we didn’t have the whole week to prepare for Man City because we had the Carabao (Cup) semi-final. So, yeah, it’s like… on one hand not to complain, not to make excuses. Absolutely not. We had some fixtures because winning some cup games, winning the quarter final and semi-final being in both legs. To be clear, both coaches in the semi-final wanted to play one leg but was not possible.
“If you have the chance at least, if we need to. Then it was like we had the Arsenal game on Thursday, the first leg was postponed. Then when playing on Thursday it was suddenly on Tuesday when both teams played on Sunday. This makes not the most sense.
“Petr said it perfectly I cannot agree more. If you look at it isolated, you can play on Saturday and Tuesday. We have done that before. If you widen the focus a little bit, we could have done better in scheduling this match for sure.”
On Chelsea’s early season form compared to recent form:
“I think we had the full squad available, if you have this you create a certain energy and atmosphere to carry you through the season and make you overperform. We should not make the mistake and talk ourself into underperformance. It is still performance and we struggled with circumstances we cannot influence. I It is still performance and we struggled with circumstances we cannot influence. It’s simply like this but it’s the same trust in our players, the same belief in our club and what we do, the process. We struggle a bit with results. Every game is very different.”
“All the last matches we play against Man City were 50/50 matches. We won three. All could have gone the other way. There was a fine margin on our side. The one at Stamford Bridge was maybe the most deserved win for City. On this day we were not good enough, me included. (On Saturday) I saw a 50/50 match where we had still room to improve. If we score the first goal I think we have a huge chance to win the game.”
“It’s a bit boring for myself because key players have key behaviours, they do key things for clubs and dressing rooms and that’s why you need them. That’s what brings you through a season. City is overperforming at the very maximum. If you want to close the gap you admit where you come from. We were never shy to say it, to try it. You need to overperform. We need everybody. This does not mean we do not trust players on the pitch. It’s very different if you earn it, have to earn it in a squad of 21 players at full strength, fully available. In the last weeks we had the feeling that if you have a negative Covid test, if you are a defender you just play. You are pushed to play, rushed to play. If you make yourself work, I don’t know if we had the chance to play the back five in the same line-up. I think you end up maybe in September or August. Maybe it’s not, it feels like that. You lack a bit of routine, automatic behaviour. It is very very normal. For the circumstances which we are in, that is not our fault. I am happy where the team is, how we play and behave. There is no need to doubt the process, to doubt the team in what we do. We are still strong and will bounce back.”