Chelsea need to ‘recharge the batteries,’ according to Thomas Tuchel, after blaming fatigue for their disappointing performance in the 1-1 Premier League stalemate at Brighton.
The European champions’ dwindling championship prospects suffered another hit after stand-in Albion skipper Adam Webster cancelled out Hakim Ziyech’s first-half opening.
Chelsea were top of the standings until the start of last month but have since fallen dramatically out of contention, having won just two of their previous nine top-flight matches.
Tuchel has once again lamented his club’s rigorous schedule and has announced that he would give his players two days off before Sunday’s home game against Tottenham.
When asked to explain the club’s recent dismal league results, the German responded: ‘I’ve addressed this question a hundred times; if you look at our position with long-term injuries, important players out, and Covid, and you look at our calendar, you’ll see the solution.
‘We are psychologically and physically exhausted, and you can sense it in our performance. We must recharge our batteries and re-connect.
‘This is my feeling, which is why I’m giving the guys two days off before we prepare for Sunday.’
Chelsea, who were out of sorts during their visit to Sussex, battled for cohesiveness and flow, with record signing Romelu Lukaku once again ineffective until being substituted 10 minutes from time.
Tuchel’s side, who suffered a humiliating 1-0 defeat to league leaders Manchester City on Saturday, are currently 12 points behind the leaders, despite having played one more match.
Indeed, they may soon be looking over their shoulders, as a spate of recent postponements has left Arsenal and Tottenham with a lot of games in hand in the race for Champions League qualifying.
Ziyech put the Blues ahead against the run of play with a low effort from distance, but they were unable to prevent Brighton securing a point with a thundering 60th-minute header from Webster.
Tuchel – who led his club to the Carabao Cup final this month with a two-legged semi-final triumph against Tottenham – said his side’s performance and outcome at the Amex Stadium were not due to a lack of ambition.
‘It’s really difficult to play at Brighton, and they treated it like a cup game; the noise after the final whistle sounded as if we’d lost the game, and this may easily create the idea that we did,’ he explained.
‘Other teams will struggle to score points here, and it will be even more difficult if they are not fatigued. There are certain roadblocks here, and I just refuse to get furious, since this is not about ambition.
‘We were fortunate to be 1-0 up and might have capitalized on it by scoring a second goal, but we failed to demonstrate our quality. We expect a lot of ourselves, but this is not the time to be unreasonable.’
Brighton stay ninth following their 11th draw in a productive year that has seen them lose only four league games.
Graham Potter, the Seagulls’ manager, believed his team might have claimed all three points with a little help from the ‘football gods.’
‘We played with courage, quality, and energy, which is exactly what you need against a strong side,’ he explained.
‘There are moments when the football gods are on your side and others when they are not, and you have to accept that, but we clearly gave ourselves a chance to win that.
‘Overall, I’m overjoyed for the players because they gave it their all, with tremendous personalities, on-pitch energy, and a beautiful environment.’