Tuchel: Chelsea facing two cup finals with Leicester

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea face "two finals" against Leicester City over the course of four days that could do much to define their revival under his leadership.

The Blues have been a team reborn since Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard as head coach in January and Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley is their first of two shots they have at silverware – the other coming in the Champions League final against Manchester City in Porto at the end of this month.

Chelsea and Leicester will reconvene on Tuesday with qualification for next season's Champions League still on the line, especially after contrasting fortunes in their most recent fixtures.

Leicester won 2-1 at Manchester United to move ahead of Chelsea in fourth, who went down to a lacklustre 1-0 derby loss at home to Arsenal.

Liverpool, who also beat United in their match at Old Trafford on Thursday, could be one point behind Chelsea by the time Tuchel's men are back in league action and he lamented his team's failure to be "decisive" in the Arsenal game.

"Obviously I cannot judge it," he said when asked which game was more important. "These are two finals and we do not think about anything else but the two finals.

"It's a final for the cup, it's a final for the top four. We missed a chance against Arsenal to be decisive and now we have to cope with it – first of all to show a reaction at Wembley and have the upper hand when it comes to Tuesday."

Tuchel took his share of the blame immediately after Emile Smith Rowe was gifted the only goal by a dire Jorginho backpass at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and he conceded his irritation at the result had not quite subsided.

"'I still have a hangover from the last defeat, it's always like this. I'm a bit more in angry mode, not at myself or the players but because of the result and the opportunity we missed," he explained.

"I will hopefully transform that to a good preparation and push the team to the edge to play sharp. We have to show a reaction, it's the FA Cup final at Wembley.

"I am fully focused to prepare my team better than two days ago."

On Thursday, the Champions League final was relocated from Istanbul to Porto due to Turkey being on the UK government's "red list" for travel in relation to COVID-19 restrictions.

Tuchel insists his squad should not be paying any attention to an eagerly anticipated fixture still two weeks away.

"I'm happy to go to Porto, I'm happy to go to a final. That's the easy answer - I would go anywhere to play a final," he said.

"But right now the bigger challenge is to forget the Champions League final and to be fully focused on our two finals that are ahead of us.

"We cannot lose one percentage of concentration and focus. We did this the last game against Arsenal and we got punished for it. Lesson learned and well accepted."

Kepa Arrizabalaga will keep his place at Wembley as Chelsea's cup goalkeeper and Tuchel confirmed Mateo Kovacic was fit to feature again after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

"It's huge because Mateo has everything we need in the midfield," he added. 'Experience, power, he can beat players, he has physical ability and has played big games in the Premier League. 

"When we missed N'Golo [Kante] and Mateo, we lacked a lot of quality, energy and experience.

"Billy [Gilmour] did a huge job in huge games but it's not fair to compare him to these players because they have more experience and are a step ahead in their development. 

"It's big news that [Kovacic] is back because he's a big guy in the dressing room around important matches."

Related items

  • Axel Disasi admits Brentford draw was two points dropped for Chelsea Axel Disasi admits Brentford draw was two points dropped for Chelsea

    Axel Disasi admitted Chelsea’s 2-2 draw at west London rivals Brentford was two points dropped.

    Defender Disasi’s late header secured a point for the Blues, who led through Nicolas Jackson’s first-half goal but then trailed to strikes from Mads Roerslev and Yoanne Wissa.

    It was another unconvincing display from Chelsea and one that prompted the away fans to turn on head coach Mauricio Pochettino for the first time.

    “To be honest we are left frustrated. I think in the first half we deserve to score maybe one goal more,” Disasi told the club website.

    “Then after half time they pushed and we have to do better because we lost two points. I think we had the quality to win the game, so the feeling is a little bit sad.

    “I’m happy to score and we didn’t lose because of this goal, that is good. But it would be a much better feeling if this goal was for the win. It was not the case but hopefully will be in the future.”

    Wissa scored a spectacular overhead kick which the DR Congo international admitted was the best of his career – despite some stiff competition.

    “This is the best one,” he said. “If I have to compare it, a goal against Oldham (in September 2021). But this is better because this is the Premier League against this kind of team.

    “Especially in this time – it’s not an easy time for every fan and player – it means a lot to me, especially after coming back from AFCON.

    “In the second half we gave only one and a half chances away. The second half was much better.

    “Everyone stepped up their level and the crowd was with us. This is how we want it, this is how Brentford play. It means a lot for the team. I’m very happy with that.

    “It came from the players. This is what we wanted, some personality.”

  • Son Heung-min expecting goals to flow soon for Brennan Johnson Son Heung-min expecting goals to flow soon for Brennan Johnson

    Tottenham captain Son Heung-min has backed the floodgates to open soon for team-mate Brennan Johnson after his latest crucial cameo.

    Johnson’s 63rd-minute introduction helped Spurs fight back from a goal down to beat Crystal Palace 3-1 on Saturday and get their Champions League qualification hopes back on track.

    It was a similar story against Brentford and Brighton earlier this year with the Welsh international beginning to flourish after his £47.5million move from Nottingham Forest in September.

    Johnson scored once and laid on two assists during his first 11 appearances for the club, but his two assists against Palace mean he has six goal involvements in his last 11 outings for Ange Postecoglou’s team.

    It was Johnson’s tenacity which made the leveller after he won back possession from Joachim Andersen before he got the better of Jefferson Lerma to tee up Timo Werner and he later set up Son for Spurs’ third goal.

    “Strong man,” Tottenham captain Son told Spurs Play.

    “That is what we need, especially the way we play. We want to play high, high intensity and who is coming from the bench has to make an impact. Brennan did and he did two amazing assists.

    “I like this guy. I love this guy. I just want to help him as much as I can.

    “Even when we start the game, I tell him, ‘just make sure you’re ready, you’ll make the difference. When you come on, you’ll make the difference,’ and that’s what we need.

    “Brennan did a fantastic job and I just want to give him a big hug.

    “The goals obviously he is missing but I am definitely sure, the way he works, working like this, the goals will come automatically, I am 100 per cent sure.”

    Postecoglou echoed Son’s sentiments on Johnson, he said: “I thought Brennan was good, but I thought all of them were good.

    “In those moments we work hard with our wide players to make sure they’re in the right areas and a couple of times we just weren’t when the ball was flashed across.

    “Brennan did fantastically well to win back possession and when he’s played it across, it’s the other winger that’s there. From our perspective that’s a really important part because it’s not by accident.”

    A slight worry for Spurs was substitute Pape Sarr seemingly in pain at full-time, but Postecoglou played down concerns.

    He added: “Pape’s had a bit of a back issue since he got back from the Africa Cup of Nations. He’s been dealing with it and it’s getting better but it’s not sort of totally free, so it’s something we’re working on with him.”

     

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Pape matar sarr (@pape_matar_sarr_15)


    A positive for Palace was Eberechi Eze’s goalscoring return after a hamstring injury and new boss Oliver Glasner preached patience after he brought him off in the 65th-minute.

     

    “You have to take care. We cannot afford to lose him for more weeks again, so this was the reason,” Glasner revealed.

    “I think the whole of England knows Ebs is a great player and he can decide games, but also we could see he does not have the rhythm because for these 65 minutes it was not maybe his highest level.

    “It is normal because he came back from an injury.

    “Now we work also with him that he will be able to play 95, 100 minutes on the highest level.”

  • Jurgen Klopp hails last-gasp Liverpool hero Darwin Nunez Jurgen Klopp hails last-gasp Liverpool hero Darwin Nunez

    Jurgen Klopp hailed Darwin Nunez’s last-gasp winner in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Nottingham Forest as the perfect response to the City Ground boo-boys.

    Nunez marked his return from a three-game injury lay-off by heading home Alexis Mac Allister’s cross in the ninth minute of added time to lift his side four points clear at the top of the Premier League.

    As Nunez stepped off the bench in the second half, a section of Forest fans chanted: “You’re just a sxxx Andy Carroll”, in reference to the Uruguay international’s pony-tail, which is similar to the one worn by the former Liverpool striker.

    Klopp, who claimed the win was among his side’s biggest of the season, said: “It’s such an important goal, which gives you three points. It’s always super-decisive and, especially for him, super-deserved.

    “Before people start singing that song more often, it’s the best way to immediately calm it down.

    “But they can sing it if Darwin responds like he did today. Before that he had really good moments. (He forced) a sensational save off the goalie, he was immediately in the game.”

    When asked if Nunez understood the song, Klopp added: “I understood it. Yes, I think he understands it, so that’s the best answer.”

    Klopp was delighted his injury-hit side has been able to keep racking up the wins – their fourth in 11 days – following last week’s Carabao Cup triumph.

    “How the boys fought through that is really special,” he added. “The fourth game was the toughest. It was really an unbelievable effort. The boys put in a proper, proper shift.”

    Forest were incensed by referee Paul Tierney’s decision to hand the ball to Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher after halting play while the home side were in possession for an apparent head injury to Ibrahima Konate shortly before the visitors’ winner.

    Home players and staff surrounded Tierney at the final whistle – coach Steven Reid was shown a red card – while Forest later dismissed reports that club owner Evangelos Marinakis had to be restrained by security staff in the tunnel.

    Forest’s referee analyst Mark Clattenburg claimed after the match that the game’s rules state Tierney should have handed possession back to Forest.

    Manager Nuno Espirito Santo refused to comment on the incident, but could not hide his disappointment.

    Anthony Elanga spurned Forest’s best two chances, foiled in a first-half one-on-one by Kelleher before firing narrowly wide from Harry Toffolo’s cross after the interval.

    “Not only that, it was the final pass, in the right moment,” Nuno said. “We will keep trying. We will repeat on the training ground until we get it right.

    “But we limited them very well. We controlled the middle of the park, always covering ourselves, the wingers helping the full-backs, controlling the box and when we had the ball we had the right idea – we go forward.

    “We had moments of good football, but took nothing from the game, so it’s tough to take because our fans deserve to go home after a game like today happy, but they’re not, so we will try.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.