Thomas Tuchel has shouldered the blame for Chelsea’s defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League but has revealed a couple of injury concerns heading into Saturday’s FA Cup final against Leicester City.
The Blues fell to a 1-0 defeat to the Gunners at Stamford Bridge courtesy of Emile Smith Rowe’s strike as the visitors pounced on a howler from Jorginho, who misplaced a backpass to Kepa in goal.
It meant Chelsea missed the chance to go back above the Foxes into third spot in the table heading into two crucial games against Brenadan Rodgers’ side, one in the cup final this weekend and the other in the Premier League next Tuesday.
Tuchel made seven changes to his side from the victory over Man City last time out. One of those changes was enforced with Andreas Christensen missing out through injury, replaced by Kurt Zouma in Tuchel’s five-man defence.
Also coming in were Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Jorginho and Kepa Arrizabalaga. Out went Antonio Rudiger, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Marcos Alonso, N’Golo Kante, Edouard Mendy and the injured Christensen.
Christensen is likely to be ruled out of the FA Cup final when Tuchel holds his pre-match press conference on Friday, we will also await news on Kante and whether he will be fit to face his former club.
Both Kante and Rudiger were left out of the matchday squad completely on Wednesday as Tuchel rotated but their stand-ins were not up to the task as the German head coach suffered just a third defeat in 26 games since replacing Frank Lampard.
Tuchel revealed post-match that Kante has been carrying an achilles injury and so was not risked for the Arsenal game, while Rudiger was also left out as the head coach didn’t want to lose another defender.
Rudiger is believed to be in what Tuchel often calls “the red zone” for players who have played heavy minutes and are at risk of sustaining an injury.
“N’Golo was out for pain management,” Tuchel told Chelsea TV.
“He has some pain in his achilles, he suffers from that so there was no chance as we missed [Mateo] Kovacic and no N’Golo on the bench, it was a huge blow for us in terms of intensity and attitude.
“For Toni, we did not want to overload the chance of injury, we have already lost Andreas Christensen, there was no chance I took this risk now and have two centre backs injured.
“The same with Timo Werner.”
Werner was an unused substitute on Tuesday night as Tuchel introduced Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olivier Giroud and Hakim Ziyech from the bench to try and break down a stubborn Arsenal defence.
Giroud, who hasn’t started a Blues game since February 23 when he scored against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, came closest of all to grabbing an equaliser when his close-range volley hit the crossbar seconds after Kurt Zouma’s header rattled the woodwork.
Source by Football London