Every word Thomas Tuchel said on Chelsea vs Tottenham, Kante, Rudiger, Saul and Kane – Football.London

What are you expecting from Tottenham with their injury situation?

Let’s see who can play and who cannot.

There are still two days to go, so I’m actually not so much involved in speculation and don’t get too involved in predictions on who will or won’t play.

It’s a tough opponent, a London derby, we had a great result last season and we will try everything to repeat that. But no matter who plays, some players also came back, and they will do everything to have their players back on the pitch.

So we expect a tough side, a big crowd, and a great match to play.

This match is being billed as Harry Kane vs Romelu Lukaku….

There’s one big similarity: they score decisive goals. They love scoring and they always have scored no matter the competition. So that is the similarity, apart from this they are very different players, different styles of play.

And we need to be very focused if Harry Kane plays, on how to defend, where to close him down, when you close the deliveries down.

Once he has the ball he’s one of the most dangerous guys in the world to finish attacks, he’s fantastic in conversion and there are some players around him who deliver well, and can also be decisive.

Let’s see if Heung-Min Son can play, because he can also be decisive.

But we have also some guys around Romelu who are able to serve him and deliver good performances. In the end it’s a team effort, and it will always be like this.

What’s the latest injury news?

No fresh injury concerns, which is good news.

Christian [Pulisic] is in individual training and trying to come back as fast as possible to team training, so he will not be in the squad.

N’Golo [Kante] is back, and back in full shape and ready to play.

Your response to Reece James having his medals stolen?

Well it was pretty shocking for all of us to hear the news and see the footage.

There’s not much to say, I think that it’s. We will be supportive emotionally and in the end sometimes it helps to focus on something else.

So that not everybody tries to help you and wants to talk with you about it again and again and again. Sometimes it helps to keep the focus on the game and training, and what to do to have the best distraction.

But it’s clear that everybody here supports him, and that’s it.

Antonio Rudiger – what is the state of play with his new contract? Any news on it?

No, I hope that they find solutions, but it’s not only between coaches and players, and what we wish for and that’s why it’s between the club, the players and the agent at the moment.

We hope that they find the solution and everything I can say, he plays excellent, and since a long time very consistent, on a very high level.

I feel him very calm and focused, and it’s not a distraction for him. So everything is in place, and give things the time they need. Sometimes it needs a bit longer, sometimes things are very fast.

There’s no news from my side, and I think that Toni feels very, very good at Chelsea, he feels very respected by his team-mates and he feels the importance that he has in the team and in the squad.

That’s well deserved because he delivers, he feels the love from the supporters when he plays. He’s in the strongest league in Europe, in a big club, so not many reasons to change that.

But in the end it’s between him and the club, and that’s in good hands. I am calm and relaxed, whatever has to happen will happen.

Won the last two games but fair to say your team hasn’t been at their best?

Yeah but I think it is pretty normal. I didn’t expect us to be at our top level in early September after this pre-season, after a long Covid period and after the international break, I absolutely did not expect the very best games from us as a team.

For me, at the moment, it is more important that we are competitive, that we show a certain mentality and play relentless, we have the belief to overcome difficult minutes and periods within games.

We have to admit that Aston Villa and Zenit played at their top level, so this is also what we have to accept and respect that our opponents are strong and that competition is hard. It is a good thing that we are able to win but it is tough for us to win at the moment.

But it is nothing to worry about. We have to improve our rhythm of the game, understanding of it, the accelerations and counter-pressing off the ball so there is stuff to improve.

Today we had a fantastic training session and used the time together to prepare for this, to focus on these things. It is a good thing when you are able to win and not by pure luck but by being able to compete in hard matches.

Everybody is aware we have to improve but this is where we are right now. We have a long way to go, the season has only just started.

I am not surprised the engine is not running as smoothly as at the end of last season, it takes time.

Attacking options – big challenge to get that balance right around Lukaku?



Romelu Lukaku has scored four goals in as many games since leaving Inter Milan for Chelsea. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Romelu Lukaku has scored four goals in as many games since leaving Inter Milan for Chelsea. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

I don’t feel it is too hard of a challenge because we are getting better and better. We now have Romelu in, he is a key player for us up front, so we lost some players from the group and everybody brings different energy.

If we lose an important player then we don’t lose just the player, it is also their personality and somebody who is maybe a friend in the dressing room. These things need time to readjust and settle down, be calm.

Like now we took the decision to have Malang Sarr, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley in our squad so these things take time. They all know what’s going on, everybody now knows what the squad is and who they can rely on. From there on, hopefully things will get easier and easier.

Repetition helps and being aware we have to improve stuff. We use the time, this is most important, this is happening at Cobham every day and that is why I am positive.

Is it a good time to face Tottenham?

It is always a good time because it is a big match. Big rivalry. So it is a match you want to play and always a good time. I don’t know if it is good because a manager is new or players are out. You never know the effect of this.

They have a new manager that brings new energy. They had a fantastic start with the win at home to Man City. They created an atmosphere that helped them beat Man City.

They played relentless and hard working. This is what they did and we expect the same against us, a tough opponent and an exciting match in London. We are happy to be part of it and I find us competitive, trust in us and I think we need to be on our top level to win the game.

Chelsea not playing so well but winning?

Yes, I would not say we are not playing well but we can do better.

We are a team that’s tough to beat and it is much easier to have results and play better than play good with no results and try to keep the momentum going. In the place we are it is easier.

Of course, a win helps to have a good atmosphere, keep calm and be open to criticism. It helps. I think at the moment I feel that everybody is aware that we can do better but we are not really bad.

In some moments of the games, we have very good periods but we have to admit that teams came very well prepared.

Aston Villa changed their formation for the first time in years and played with fantastic attitude and quality. Zenit changed their formation to 5-4-1. They came with a Champions League quality team but played like an underdog with their tactical approach.

We need some time to adapt to this because we are on a good run in terms of results so teams come well prepared and make life very difficult for us.

This is our fault and what we deserve. We need to find solutions. While we are doing this, we need to be a team that’s hard to beat. This is what we want to be, we want to be that team that no one wants to play against, and again like this for Sunday. This is very important to have this attitude because it is normal that things don’t always go in your favour over 90 minutes.

You have to fight through difficult moments. This is what we do. We overcome these moments. We are never in doubt and I feel we are confident to go through these moments in games and maybe it is the best to expect that it can happen and not overexpect from us.

Having two days extra to prepare an advantage for you?

It is good. I like it because we have a good day off and still one recovery day and two training sessions where we can prepare physically and tactically to improve exactly where we want to improve. I like it.

It is very rare so it is good for us. But is it an advantage? I think if you go to the statistics over the years I think you will not find any advantage if a team has one or two days off.

Sometimes it is good to stay in the rhythm. It depends. For us in particular it was good to have the four days.

Who would you have rather faced as a player – Kane or Lukaku?

In my time defending I was a sweeper so I played 10 metres behind the real defenders so they did the dirty work. So I was the guy to push them up against Romelu and once the ball is free I come an steal it and get all the applause from the public which was not around because there was not a lot of people watching the games where I played.

Harry Kane drops a lot to the number ten position. I would have liked it because then I could have given the job to the number six and the midfielders. That was not my league. They would have gone past me easily. It is good that other guys do this.

Saul Niguez – how has he reacted to his struggles on his debut?

We have guys who experienced the same difficult start in the team and this team is a very supportive team so everybody shared their experiences also from their first matches in the Premier League.

Me as a coach the same. When I watched Premier League and was at the side line in my first match against Wolverhampton this was another level of what I saw and I had played already against Premier League teams in the Champions League so if it comes up to you in every three days it is quite impressive and maybe a shock of culture.

We don’t doubt his quality and ability to adapt. It takes maybe now a bit of time to get it off his shoulders but the good thing is he is of an age where he does not worry too much.

He is self-confident and the good thing is everybody in the dressing room and in the club knows him very well and played many times against him so there are no doubts. It just needs a bit of time and the best thing to react is what he did. He trains good and he trains with intensity and this will prepare for the next time he is on the pitch for us.

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