Opinion: Werner could be Chelsea's Martinez alongside Lukaku

Chelsea will have to play much better than they did against Brentford if they are to win this season’s Premier League title. Thomas Tuchel’s side got the 1-0 win they needed to return to the top of the table, but not many in blue left the Brentford Community Stadium having played their best football.

However, the performance of Timo Werner surely gave Tuchel food for thought. While the German international failed to score or assist, the way he was deployed as one-half of a front two hinted at how he could be used this season. One wonders if Tuchel spent the international break watching tapes of how Inter got the best out of Romelu Lukaku.

Indeed, the role Werner played for Chelsea against Brentford was similar to the one Lautaro Martinez performed to great effect alongside Lukaku when the pair were the most devastating strike partnership in Italian football. While Lukaku was the one who primarily provided the finishing touch in front of goal, Martinez offered movement and spatial awareness around him.

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In binary terms, Lukaku has delivered for Chelsea this season, scoring three goals in six Premier League appearances since making the £98m return to Stamford Bridge in the summer window. However, the Belgian striker has grown increasingly isolated as Chelsea have looked to him as an orthodox frontman to hit with long balls and crosses.

Manchester United fell into this trap when Lukaku was at the club, seeing the Belgian for his physical attributes rather than his technical capacity as an all-round forward. Antonio Conte demonstrated how to harness Lukaku and this is why Tuchel’s recent deployment of Werner as a strike partner for his £98m striker is notable. Werner could be Chelsea’s Martinez.

Even as Chelsea got the job done against an impressive Brentford side who have hit the ground running in the Premier League this season, they showed many of the faults that have hindered them in recent weeks. Primarily, Tuchel’s team are currently lacking in creativity and invention – they don’t forge as many goal scoring chances as a side with their attacking talent should, registering just five shots.

But this is partly why Werner, who scored twice for Germany over the international break, has grown in stature of late. He possesses a different skill set to everyone else around him. Werner gives Tuchel another route to goal, another way to create space and open up opponents. The German might be unpolished in some of his output, but Chelsea would be a weaker squad without him.

Timo Werner for Chelsea against Brentford in the Premier League.

Image credit: Getty Images

There is still a sense that Tuchel is working out the best system for Chelsea as an attacking outfit. Lukaku was signed to give the European champions the cutting edge they lacked at times last season, but there is now an acknowledgement that the Belgian can’t simply be dropped into the side and expected to do it all on his own.

Against Brentford, Werner did a lot to break in behind and provide Chelsea’s midfielders with an option. Even when he didn’t receive the pass, the German gave the opposition defence something else to think about. Werner drew defenders away from Lukaku in much the same way Martinez used to for Inter. Tuchel might not wish to remember much about Saturday’s win over Brentford, but this is one thing he should keep in mind.

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'It's too early' – Tuchel not distracted by Premier League title talk

Thomas Tuchel is not getting carried away by Chelsea’s position at the top of the Premier League, saying it is too early to be talking about title challenges.

The Blues have made an excellent start to the season, and a battling win at Brentford on Saturday lifted them back above Liverpool after eight games of the season.

Liverpool were deeply impressive in routing Watford – and are the only side with an unbeaten record – while Manchester City are two points adrift of Chelsea.

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Tuchel is happy with Chelsea’s start to the season, but is not looking too far ahead.

“Better to be there [top of the table] than the other way around but it is too early and way too many teams who are close,” Tuchel said.

With every draw or loss you can lose positions, this is not the main point in October.

“I am happy with our game against Southampton and today, we needed luck in the last 20 minutes but I am happy with the energy.”

Ben Chilwell’s goal secured the win, but the performance of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy drew praise as he made a string of brilliant saves to keep Chelsea in front.

Five Chelsea players are on the Ballon d’Or shortlist, and Tuchel feels Mendy should have been a sixth.

“It’s more important that he performs like this than being on any list,” Tuchel said. “I hope it doesn’t bother him too much. I wish we could be on the list as a whole team because we won it as a team. If we have five or six names it does not matter.”

Romelu Lukaku drew another blank, his sixth Chelsea game in a row without goal, but Tuchel is not concerned by the lack of end product.

“I am not concerned and he was isolated because we were defending as a block too deep,” the Chelsea coach said. “That was the problem today. But I have no concerns, the best thing is he scores. He is very unselfish at the moment looking for Timo. When we had him in the situation he was in an offside position.”

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‘Does anybody ask us?’ – Tuchel frustrated with international break

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'Does anybody ask us?' – Tuchel frustrated with international break

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has voiced frustration with the international schedule after revealing he will be without four players for the meeting with Brentford.

CONMEBOL’s decision to extend their window by an extra day means Chelsea will not be able to call on Brazil defender Thiago Silva against the Bees.

Tuchel also confirmed Antonio Rudiger, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech will also be absent.

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“Of course I’m not happy but I knew it before so there’s nothing new,” Tuchel said. “I got used to a lot of stuff in the international breaks and this is how it is nowadays.

Are we coaches happy about it and the amount of games our players play for their countries? No, we are not. Does anybody ask us? No, also not and does it change anything? Also not so I don’t get down because of this.

“Toni Rudiger is injured. He came back injured from his national team so is also not available. Christian Pulisic is still injured and not available.

“We have some doubts with Hakim Ziyech. He missed the last two training sessions with a headache and it seems that he’s not with the squad tomorrow.”

While critical of the international break, Tuchel feels the top players are being asked to play too many games and says it is detracting from the sport.

“I think it’s too many games and too many competitions for the top players in the clubs,” Tuchel said. “The game is for the players and for the spectators, and the spectators want to have the top players on the pitch. They want them fit, healthy, hungry and you cannot always provide it if you play so many games in so many different competitions.”

Chelsea went into the international break at the top of the Premier League, one point clear of Liverpool.

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Abraham 'won't stop' until he's one of world's best strikers

Tammy Abraham has set himself the target of becoming one of the best strikers in the world and says “I won’t stop until I’m there”.

Abraham was frozen out by Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel in the second half of last season, and missed out on a place in the England squad for Euro 2020.

However, he has made an impressive start to life at Roma, where he has scored four goals in 10 matches, which earned him a recall to Gareth Southgate’s squad.

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Abraham is in contention to start England’s World Cup qualifier against Andorra on Saturday, but the 24-year-old won’t be happy until he is considered one of the best goal-scorers on the planet.

“I’ve always told myself that no matter how good I get I can always get better,” he said.

“I think after my career I can sit back and look at the things that I’ve done and I want to be able to say I’ve done everything I can, I’ve left it all out there, I’ve worked as hard as I could.

“I want to be in the names of the best striker in the world when they’re ranking the strikers. That’s my aim and I won’t stop until I’m there.”

Abraham made the decision to swap west London for Rome having started only three Premier League matches after January 31, failing to play more than 45 minutes in any of those.

The striker also failed to make the bench for the Champions League final win over Manchester City in May, but he says it would have been the “easy option” to stay at Stamford Bridge.

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“I had an ambition and a goal that I set myself and it was to go out there and be the best I can be, to prove to everyone my true abilities,” he said.

“The easy option would’ve been to stick around and sit down. Chelsea’s a massive club, they will compete and try to win trophies, so the easy option would’ve been to do that.

“I realised that I needed go out and prove myself. I took a decision and it was the right one.”

And Abraham revealed how Mourinho convinced him to choose Roma, and what impact the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss has already had on his game.

“I had different options,” he added. “So many clubs I was speaking to at the time.

“I spoke to Jose. He had a goal. I could see where he wanted Roma to go, and see where he wants to take them and I wanted to be part of the process.

“He really put his trust in me so he was a big impact on the reason why I chose Roma.

“I picked up the phone and he was like, ‘Do you want to enjoy some sun or stay in the rain?’

“I have learned so much tactically – as much as I have in my entire lifetime. It is good. You need to learn off different managers. Right now, I am learning a lot.”

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Southgate holds Hudson-Odoi talks with Ghana switch looming – report

England manager Gareth Southgate is reportedly reluctant to call up Callum Hudson-Odoi just to ensure he doesn’t switch his allegiance to Ghana next year.

Hudson-Odoi has made three appearances for England’s senior team, with the last coming in 2019.

Just as he has found it hard to break into the Chelsea team, he has also found it difficult to get a place in the England squad due to the high level of competition.

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His international future is now in the balance as the Daily Telegraph report that Hudson-Odoi would be eligible to switch his international allegiance to Ghana from November 2022 in time for the World Cup in Qatar.

Under FIFA rules, a player can make up to three competitive appearances and still switch allegiance, as long as the appearances were made under the age of 21 and were not at the ‘final stage’ of a tournament.

Therefore if Hudson-Odoi plays for England again he would not be able to switch to Ghana, who he qualifies to play for through his father.

The Telegraph say Southgate has spoken to Hudson-Odoi about his international ambition, but he will not let the situation impact his future squad decisions.

Speaking last week, Southgate said: “I’m trying to respect a squad that got us to a final [of Euro 2020], not make too many changes to that, and make sure young players really have to earn their right to come in.”

Hudson-Odoi reportedly turned down an England Under-21 call-up in August as he sees himself as a senior player. He was not called up by the U21s for games this month.

The 20-year-old has not been a regular under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea and hinted in June that a switch to Ghana could happen.

“I think obviously when you’re young, you have the opportunity to play for England throughout all the years, from under 15 to under 16 all the way up,” Hudson-Odoi said, as reported by Joy Sports.

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“When they obviously gave me the opportunity to come I was in the country already. It’s something that I already had in my mind, set on already playing for England.

“So it was the thing obviously choosing Ghana or England, and at the end of the day I said I always had the right people around me who always advise me – what’s right, what’s wrong. England came and I said ‘Yeah, let me go and play for my country. But I said Ghana is my home as well, so we’ll see, we’ll see. You’ll never know.”

Tuchel seemed to question Hudson-Odoi’s decision not to play for the U21s earlier in the summer.

“It’s his personal decision and nothing to do with my opinion or the club’s,” said the Chelsea boss. “If I speculate a little bit, I think it’s about disappointment that he is not nominated for the first team, but at the same time maybe did not have enough minutes to be nominated for the first team.

“Personally, I could see the upgrade in having some minutes and being in a leading role for the Under-21s, but he decided differently so he will deal with the consequences.”

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Opinion: Loftus-Cheek (and the academy) is Tuchel’s not so secret weapon

When Thomas Tuchel was hired he was met with pretty much universal approval. All but a small minority of Chelsea fans felt that it was the right decision to sack club legend Frank Lampard, who clearly was out of his depth. Hiring a manager of Tuchel’s tactical pedigree was seen as the smart decision by the club.

The only real concern was how Tuchel would use the academy. One of the primary reasons for hiring Lampard was his connection to the club’s youth system along with assistant Jody Morris. Lampard handed out a number of debuts and it was under him that the likes of Reece James, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham became key first-team fixtures. Tuchel had some history of bringing through young players, but not an extensive history.

However there can be no complaints of his use of the academy so far and on Saturday during the 3-1 win over Southampton three different graduates started. With James injured and Mount only fit enough for the bench it was Trevoh Chalobah, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek who represented the youth system, and all played their part.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 02: Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea in action with James Ward-Prowse of Southampton during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 02, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Ge

Image credit: Getty Images

Of the three it was the latter who stood out the most. He made an impression on everyone who watched him including former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who had this to say about him on Match of the Day.

“The power, the skill, he’s got everything. People say he hasn’t got the energy – look at him now, this is scary.

“Ruben Loftus-Cheek looks to me like he’s got the fire in his belly back. He’s dangerous.”

Wright had said earlier that after Loftus-Cheek’s devastating ruptured achilles injury, which cost him over nine months out injured, he “didn’t think we’d ever see him go back to this kind of form.”

Wright has a point. The loan spell to Fulham was not a successful one. There were flashes of course but he couldn’t be a difference maker on a consistent basis. After returning to Cobham over the summer at the age of 25 he seemed destined for a loan move away to regain his fitness. Former bosses Jose Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri reportedly both wanted to bring him to the Italian capital.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 02: Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 2, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Image credit: Getty Images

But Tuchel had already raised eyebrows late in April when he compared Loftus-Cheek to former Chelsea and Germany midfielder Michael Ballack. Then reports came out over the summer that the England international had really impressed Tuchel with his work-rate and attitude. It’s tough to hear for Fulham fans, who were so frustrated by him, but the loan move was more about getting his own rhythm back than helping them stay up. A brutal and unfair reality.

Cameos against Manchester City and Juventus could not stem the tides of defeat but he did more than enough to earn the start against Southampton and justified his inclusion. As Wright alluded to he is a unique player, a true footballing unicorn. You just don’t see someone with his technical ability combined with that sort of physicality.

Loftus-Cheek’s effortless glide is so useful in a midfield too because he easily takes one opponent out of the equation. That can help a lot when teams try to isolate the Chelsea midfield. He clearly has put the time in to work on the defensive side of his game as well. Plus it certainly doesn’t hurt that if needed he can be used as one of the two behind the striker.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 02: Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea in action with Nathan Tella of Southampton during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 02, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty I

Image credit: Getty Images

If he can put together a consistent season it will be a huge boost for Tuchel, who had to bring in Saul Niguez in a late deadline day move to bolster his midfield options. A penny for the thoughts of the Spaniard right now…

A word too on Chalobah, who was a close second to Loftus-Cheek in the academy sweepstakes. Whilst Hudson-Odoi flickered Chalobah sparkled, getting his second senior goal for the club as well as putting in an excellent defensive performance. He made five tackles, two interceptions and, perhaps most crucially of all, he didn’t get dribbled past once.

Chelsea clearly wanted Jules Kounde last summer, they even sold Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan in order to fund the move, but they couldn’t make it work with Sevilla. Chalobah came in from a season spent on loan with FC Lorient in France. Like Loftus-Cheek he impressed Tuchel enough that Chelsea turned down moves, with Spanish side Valencia reportedly interested.

Chelsea might still need Kounde, as both Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger will be out of contract come the end of the season, but complementing him with Chalobah will be huge for the team moving forward. It’s early days but so far Tuchel appears to have struck a nice balance between big signings and academy players.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 02: Trevoh Chalobah of Chelsea celebrates after scoring their side’s first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 02, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Lee – Chel

Image credit: Getty Images

It’s unrealistic for a club like Chelsea to solely rely on the academy, the hallmark of a great team is one that blends them together. It’s what Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United did so well during their dominant years. With James, Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, Mount and Hudson-Odoi there is a good core of academy players to go along with the lavish signings. There could be more too, with one or both of Conor Gallagher and Billy Gilmour poised to come back into the first-team set-up next season.

After so many years of trying it feels as if Chelsea might finally have gotten it right with their academy, plus with the appointment of Tuchel they have shown what a great motivator can do when it comes to rebuilding players. There was even an impressive cameo from forgotten man Ross Barkley against the Saints. Maybe we’ll see Danny Drinkwater ripping it up next season at the Bridge? No? Perhaps even that is beyond Tuchel’s powers…

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Hudson-Odoi left out of U21 squad but Carsley insists he's 'committed' to England

Callum Hudson-Odoi has again been left out of England’s Under-21s squad amid links with a switch of international allegiance to Ghana.

The Chelsea winger turned down a call-up to England’s most senior age-group side in August as uncertainty grew over his future at Stamford Bridge.

Manager Thomas Tuchel blocked a loan move to Borussia Dortmund, despite Hudson-Odoi largely being on the periphery at Chelsea so far this season.

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Lee Carsley, England’s U21 manager, insisted that Hudson-Odoi’s omission was to allow him to fight for his club place rather than any pending decision to play for Ghana.

“No intentions or suggestions were made with that regard,” Carsley said of links between Hudson-Odoi and the African nation.

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As far as we are concerned, Callum is still committed to England and we are looking forward to having him back at some point.

“Callum will remain at Chelsea and try to get it the Chelsea team.

“We have spoken to him to see how he’s getting on and how he is feeling, so has Gareth [Southgate], so there’s no real change there.”

Hudson-Odoi earned three senior caps for England in 2019.

Carsley has named a 23-player squad for the European Championship qualifiers against Slovenia and Andorra.

Manchester United’s Angel Gomes has earned a first call-up.

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Football

Tuchel puzzled by ‘strange’ Juventus defeat

YESTERDAY AT 08:13

Opinion: A bump in the road or something deeper? What do Chelsea’s consecutive defeats mean?

Speaking in general terms, phrases like “strange one” and “I don’t know” are not ones you want the manager of your football club to be using.

Yet those were just some of the words used by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel after he watched his side lose 1-0 to Juventus in Turin on Wednesday evening. It follows a defeat by the same scoreline at home to Manchester City on Saturday. The consecutive losses mark the second time this has happened to Chelsea under Tuchel. The last time also saw two 1-0 defeats in a row, then to Arsenal at home in the Premier League and against Leicester City at Wembley in the FA Cup final.

That time Chelsea would respond by beating the Foxes in the league a few days later to more or less secure their position in the top four for next season. They then, of course, went on to beat City in the final of the Champions League.

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Tuchel puzzled by ‘strange’ Juventus defeat

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Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel gestures during the Uefa Champions League group stage football match n.2 JUVENTUS – CHELSEA on September 29, 2021 at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, Piedmont, Italy. (Photo by Matteo Bottanelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Image credit: Getty Images

Tuchel will be hoping for a similar response from his players after such a lacklustre couple of displays. After both matches most observers would agree that Chelsea’s opponents wanted it more, but there were also some key tactical tweaks that caught Tuchel out.

In both matches Chelsea found themselves pressed, but pressed intelligently. Teams have tried to press Tuchel’s team in the past but the defenders (notably Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen) are good enough on the ball to play around the press and get it into the midfielders. Then those midfielders have ripped vulnerable teams on the counter in ruthless fashion.

But what Pep Guardiola and Max Allegri did so effectively was to press in segments, not as a unit. This is counter-intuitive to how the pressing tactic is supposed to work. You’re meant to press as a unit to prevent a way out for the opposition. But pressing in bunches, and in specific areas, allows teams to regroup and not get caught out.

The area that both managers targeted was the Chelsea midfield. The theory was that by not giving the midfielders time it would be possible to isolate the forward players, particularly Romelu Lukaku. The only option would be a hopeful long ball or going back to the defenders to try again. Whichever option Chelsea chose it would backfire because there would be enough numbers in defence to prevent an attack from starting.

Chelsea’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku (L) and Juventus’ Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci go for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Juventus and Chelsea on September 29, 2021 at the Juventus stadium in Turin

Image credit: Getty Images

It’s safe to say that by and large the tactics worked pretty much as hoped. Of course a team like Chelsea will always have their moments, but over the two matches they had just one shot on target. Lukaku was left doing a rather splendid impression of Harry Kane, dropping deep just to try and touch the ball.

Against City it was a bit of a surprise to see Tuchel go with two up top and three in midfield, rather than the other way around, but it certainly played into Chelsea’s hands. With Marcos Alonso inexplicably coming inside on the regular there was simply no outlet for the Chelsea midfield with Lukaku and Timo Werner smothered by the defence.

Tuchel put his favourite show on against Juve but watched the same episode that he saw against City. Chelsea were flat, they couldn’t really get out (barring an encouraging opening 20 minutes or so) and Lukaku was often a lone figure with no-one around him. Once the midfield lacked options, Chelsea’s play stagnated.

Thomas Tuchel (L) and Antonio Rudiger (R)

Image credit: Getty Images

So what can Tuchel do to combat this? The most obvious thing is what he did against Juventus, move to four at the back and bring on a different type of midfielder, namely Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The Loftus-Cheek Resurrection is one of the more fascinating side projects to watch this season, if only because of the unabating love Chelsea fans have for him. It is now two games in a row that Lofus-Cheek, who is still only 25, came on and made a visible difference to how Chelsea played.

There are few things that would make Chelsea fans happier than for Loftus-Cheek to finally fulfil his potential, but on a serious note there is a reason so many managers persist with him. What he offers is uniquely tantalising, his ball-carrying ability is something you don’t find in many players. When you combine that dribbling and technical ability with his size and strength, you have a potentially fantastic midfielder. There are very realistic concerns however about his ability to play in a two. So he either has to be one of the more advanced two, or Chelsea change system.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea FC and Dejan Kulusevski of FC Juventus compete for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group H match between FC Juventus and Chelsea FC at Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy on 29 September 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/Nu

Image credit: Getty Images

The worry with moving back to a 4-3-3 has always been what happens to Kai Havertz? He’s not quite a central midfielder or a wide player, and can often get lost. This is different to Werner, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech who can all either go deeper or wider.

However the honest answer is that for now Tuchel might have to experiment with moving Havertz away from where he wants to be, at least to try and present something different for opposing managers to think about. If Ben Chilwell comes in for Alonso it might give some freedom for Havertz to go onto the left. Then you can have either Loftus-Cheek or Mount as the most advanced of the midfield three and perhaps Reece James or Callum Hudson-Odoi out wide on the right.

This isn’t necessarily the time to panic, at least not yet, but it’s clear that Tuchel’s team have become a little bit predictable. Now against smaller teams this may not matter, but big teams with top players and well-paid managers will figure out solutions, as we have seen over the last seven days.

It’s Tuchel’s job to counteract that and in his defence it’s clearly something he seems to relish more than most managers. There are few top-flight managers who have shown a willingness to adjust the way Tuchel has. It doesn’t have to be a major adjustment as highlighted above either, perhaps it can be more subtle. Maybe Chelsea aim for more double teams either centrally or in wide areas. Maybe all the problems really will be solved when Mount comes back. But even if that is the case, that would mean work for Tuchel. You should never be so reliant on one player. You can be sure Tuchel’s brain will be operating in overdrive to try and figure out some solutions, and it should be fascinating to watch.

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Tuchel puzzled by 'strange' Juventus defeat

Thomas Tuchel struggles to understand why his Chelsea side were unable to overcome Juventus on Wednesday night.

Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end on Saturday when they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City before losing in Turin in their second Champions League group game.

Following the 1-0 defeat to Juve, with Chelsea registering just one shot on target, the German has labelled the defeat “strange” and says his players “were a bit slow and tired”.

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“I think we started not sharp enough,” he said.

“We struggled to create our own rhythm and intensity because they were so deep and passive. We were lacking runs.

“We were so good in training yesterday and not good enough, not free enough, today. I don’t know why.

“I felt we were a bit slow and tired, mentally slow, decision-making. That’s why it’s a strange one to analyse. We had a day off and two very good training sessions yesterday.

“We were absolutely sharp, looked very fresh and very hungry, and ready for a bounce back.

“It’s very difficult to put on a high rhythm against a team who defends so deep. If we defended deep against City it was difficult for them to create chances.

“It was the same for us here. But the difference was we gave two big chances and gave the belief back into the stadium.”

Romelu Lukaku was lacking service throughout the game just like he was against City. Tuchel repeated his side were “lacking runners” against defence-minded Juve.

“Manchester City scored from a set-piece with a deflected shot against us. Sometimes you need this. If a team defends deep, it’s hard to find your own rhythm,” he said.

“We were lacking runners. Once we started to do other things, we made mistakes and that cost us a bit of belief. A shooting problem. If we don’t shoot, they cannot be on target. If you play against a deep block like today, it’s hard to take shots.

“We found the spaces, it wasn’t easy. We had a lot of shots, but I think there are some chances late in the game where it wouldn’t have been so hard to find the target.”

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Tuchel: 'Weaker' Juventus without Ronaldo still demand respect

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says that Juventus must still be shown a great deal of respect, even though Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer at the club.

It has been a difficult return to Juve for their manager Massimiliano Allegri. Juve are currently down in 10th in the Serie A table after six matches which included a shock 1-0 defeat to Empoli at home on August 28.

Juve have failed to hit the ground running following Ronaldo’s departure to Manchester United, with the forward having scored 101 goals in 134 appearances for the Serie A club since his arrival in 2018.

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Nevertheless, Tuchel says Juve have to be taken seriously even though he believes they are “weaker” without Ronaldo.

“They are such a big club,” the German told reporters.

“Yes they have had some troubles, a rough start but they were very convincing in the Champions League. They are reliable. It is a no-brainer, they demand respect.

Time will tell but it is no secret that any team without Cristiano, in some parts of the game, will be weaker.

“They have a deep and big squad, they are a very proud club. It is my first time to play Juventus in this competition and we face a hard competitor.”

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Tuchel felt his players were too passive in their 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and must rectify that against Juventus.

He added: “It is a normal thing because you have to adapt to your strengths and weaknesses. We were not happy with our defence against Man City, we were too passive.

“The defensive plan was my responsibility, maybe it led to this passive behaviour. We defended the box over a long period very well.”

Tuchel has ruled out injured trio Mason Mount, Reece James, Christian Pulisic, as well as N’Golo Kante for Wednesday night’s game.

Tuchel confirmed Kante has tested positive for Covid-19 and is now quarantining.

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