EPL

Lukaku under no pressure to rush back, insists Tuchel

By Sports Desk November 19, 2021

Thomas Tuchel is not putting any pressure on Romelu Lukaku as the Chelsea striker continues his recovery from injury.

Lukaku has been absent since sustaining an ankle problem in Chelsea's 4-0 win over Malmo in the Champions League on October 20.

The 28-year-old has subsequently missed five Chelsea games, along with Belgium's World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Wales.

Chelsea have also been without Lukaku's fellow forward Timo Werner, who suffered a thigh injury in the same game.

Tuchel's team managed three victories without their strikers, though they needed a penalty shoot-out to get past Southampton in the EFL Cup before being held to a 1-1 home draw by Burnley before the international break.

Leicester City, who beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final last season, are next up in Saturday's early Premier League kick-off, but Tuchel will again be without Lukaku.

"Mateo [Kovacic] and Romelu are still out. Romelu is very close to team training, hopefully he will join the squad on Sunday," Tuchel said on Friday.

"Let's see how this works out. He is pushing hard to come back as soon as possible."

Before his injury, Lukaku had not been at his best in terms of goalscoring, having not netted for the Blues across all competitions since September 14.

Lukaku's return would be timely for Saturday's trip to the King Power Stadium, given he has scored five goals in eight Premier League appearances against teams managed by Brendan Rodgers (all against Liverpool, including the last goal scored against the Northern Irishman's Reds side in October 2015 for Everton).

No player has netted more Premier League goals against teams managed by Rodgers (Harry Kane also on five), but Tuchel insisted he is not going to rush Lukaku back.

Asked if Lukaku could be fit to feature against Juventus on Tuesday, or his former club Manchester United in Chelsea's following league game on October 28, Tuchel said: "It's pure speculation and it will not help. All I can say is that we will try hard that he will join team training on Sunday.

"If everything works out perfectly and he trains on Sunday and Monday then okay he can maybe join the group on the bench, but there are a lot of ifs and I don't want to put pressure on him.

"He's putting a lot of pressure on himself and we will not rush things. We will take things seriously as always, have talks with doctors and physios and with the player.

"If there is something to be decided then that's good, and it will be decided on Monday evening."

Tuchel did have a more positive update to offer on Werner, however, while Mason Mount could be in contention and Christian Pulisic is fit to feature.

"Timo's in team training since Thursday, let's see, we have another training session today, let's see if he is even in the squad or on the bench," Tuchel added.

"We can only decide after his second session. Christian Pulisic feels fine. Thiago Silva will train, he did not play [for Brazil] but he has some trouble in his body and some time differences. Mason [Mount] is back in training, looking hungry, fresh in a good spirit, but we need to evaluate. He looks good, but we need to see if he can start or play 90 minutes."

Chelsea may well need the Germany forward. While they have only lost three of their last 18 Premier League matches against the Foxes, albeit the most recent of those defeats came in the corresponding fixture last season, in what proved to be Frank Lampard's last top-flight game in charge, Leicester are unbeaten in their last three home league matches against the Blues.

In all competitions, Leicester have won two matches against Chelsea in 2021, winning in the Premier League in January and the FA Cup final in May. In the last 10 years, only Man United have beaten them three times in a single calendar year.

Related items

  • Motherwell fans set to be consulted after several ‘serious’ investment proposals Motherwell fans set to be consulted after several ‘serious’ investment proposals

    Motherwell supporters are set to be given some major decisions to make following several proposals to invest in the fan-owned club.

    Outgoing chairman Jim McMahon revealed at Motherwell’s annual general meeting on Wednesday night that they had received “four or five serious approaches” following a recent announcement that the club were open to investment.

    Talks with two of those interested parties – one American and one multi-national – have “progressed rapidly” but both would result in significant dilution of the Well Society’s 71 per cent stake.

    With the interested parties keen to push forward, Well Society members are set to be consulted given at least one of the proposals would reduce their shareholding below 50 per cent, while members have been promised the final say on whether to accept a concrete offer.

    The Well Society was set up in 2011 and assumed a majority stake five years later. It has close to 4,000 members, who have already invested £1million in the club, mostly in the form of a loan, while about £750,000 is in a reserve fund.

    The news came on the backdrop of financial results which showed the club made a £1.6million loss last season.

    McMahon claimed the loss was “fully anticipated, managed and primarily the result of various long-term strategic decisions made by the club in recent years”. The club have invested heavily in Fir Park, including a new £1.2million hybrid pitch, new PA and CCTV systems among other projects.

    Turnover was £6.4million, an increase of more than £800,000, the majority of which can be attributed to a rise in income from UEFA.

    Staff costs last season were £5.1m, down slightly on the previous campaign. The first-team player budget fell by £340,000, mainly because of a reduction in bonuses, while other staff costs increased by £184,000, partly because of compensation costs to departed managers Graham Alexander and Steven Hammell and their assistants.

    As a comparison, fan-owned St Mirren spent £4.3million on their staff costs last season after reaching the top six of the cinch Premiership.

    Motherwell have spent significantly more on wages than the likes of St Mirren and Kilmarnock since becoming fan owned but McMahon and interim chief executive Derek Weir have both talked about a funding gap in recent months and the challenge of competing with the likes of Hearts and Hibernian, who have benefited from external funds.

    The club had £1.75million cash on May 31 last year, down from more than £4million from 12 months earlier. They expect to have at least £500,000 in the bank at the end of the current financial year but say they have had a profitable season this time round.

    Meanwhile, it was revealed that manager Stuart Kettlewell has a contract until the end of next season.

    It was widely believed that Kettlewell’s contract was due to expire in the summer as Motherwell had declared his deal was “initially to May 2024” when he was appointed exactly 12 months ago. However, a one-year extension was triggered when Motherwell avoided relegation last season.

    The club’s recruitment of a new chief executive is ongoing with Weir scheduled to depart in five weeks. McMahon steps down at the end of the season and another director, Andrew Wilson, has now resigned.

  • Dani Alves sentenced to four and a half years in prison for sexual assault Dani Alves sentenced to four and a half years in prison for sexual assault

    Former Brazil and Barcelona player Dani Alves has been sentenced to four years and six months in prison for sexual assault by a Spanish court.

    The 40-year-old former right-back was found guilty of assaulting a woman in a Barcelona nightclub on New Year’s Eve in 2022 and has been in custody since being arrested for the offence in January 2023.

    Alves, who must also pay his victim 150,000 euros (£128,000) in compensation and their court costs, has the right to appeal against his sentence.

    A statement from the Audiencia de Barcelona on Thursday read: “The Court of Barcelona has condemned footballer Dani Alves to four years and six months in prison for sexual assault.

    “The victim must also receive 150,000 euros and have their legal costs paid.

    “The sentence takes into consideration that it has been proven the victim did not consent and that there is evidence in addition to their testimony that proves the offence.”

  • Virgil van Dijk admits Liverpool overcompensated in absence of injured stars Virgil van Dijk admits Liverpool overcompensated in absence of injured stars

    Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk admits the team was probably guilty of trying too hard to compensate for the absence of a host of star players in the 4-1 victory over Luton.

    Forwards Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah were the latest added to an absentee list, which had grown to 11 senior players and left manager Jurgen Klopp short of options, certainly of match-winners, as his bench comprised three defenders and four academy players.

    The likes of Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo, and to a lesser extent Luis Diaz, all struggled up front in the first half, but four goals in an impressive second-half comeback after going behind in the 12th minute re-established a four-point advantage at the top of the Premier League.

    Klopp’s side have won now 22 points from losing positions this season, more than any other team.

    “First half with the very first chance (for Diaz) we could have changed the game, but we were a bit rushed in the final third,” said Van Dijk.

    “Obviously the way we turned it around was credit to the boys.

    “Staying calm is the most difficult thing to do, especially in the situation where we are at; everyone wants to show themselves and play their best game ever, and you have to try to stay calm and find the right solution.

    “The first half was a bit rushed and that’s why we struggled a little bit in that sense. Being 1-0 down is never nice, but the way we bounced back is good to see.”

    Elliott, on his 100th appearance, scored the team’s 100th goal of the season with the late fourth to end his night on a high after coming in for some vociferous criticism from the crowd.

    However, Klopp – who remonstrated with a fan who appeared to target Elliott after yet another pass went astray in the first half – defended the 20-year-old.

    “Top performance. And Harvey is a top player; 100 games for Liverpool FC in not the worst period of the club’s history, where you cannot afford players who (just) play the position, that’s a proper sign,” he added.

    “He had not a great first half. There was a pass with Lucho (Diaz); I saw he wants to play the pass instead of maybe he can go in a one-on-one situation.

    “But the reaction in the second half is the main difference, that’s the thing. That made this performance the performance and I’m so happy for him.

    “I don’t lose patience in these moments, I know that it’s a challenge for young boys.

    “When everything is great, they are super talents. When things don’t go well, you have to show up. And that’s what he’s learning more and more.

    “And with 100 games under his belt, we all know he will definitely play another 100, 200, 300 – if you ask him, 500 – for this club.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.