Thomas Tuchel has hit back at fixtures complaints from Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United and says the trio’s early exits from cup competition has provided a ‘huge advantage’ in the chase for Champions League football.
Chelsea face Arsenal in the Premier League this evening as the West Londoners look to secure their place in the top four, with Tuchel taking aim at the Gunners – and top four rivals Spurs and Manchester United – over complaints over fatigue.
The Blues will have competed in 62 fixtures by the time the season reaches its conclusion, having won both the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, in addition to reaching both domestic cup finals and the last eight of the Champions League.
Tuchel has little sympathy for rival sides given Chelsea’s schedule this season and believes the top four contenders have failed to capitalise on the ‘huge advantage’ of early cup exits.
“They have been given a huge advantage,” Tuchel said at his pre-match press conference.
“It depends what you make about your situation. That’s why we can use it as an excuse. We can use it to feel very tired and we feel the challenge at the moment mentally and physically. We can use it to have an excuse if things go wrong. Or we can just accept the challenge and go from there.
“I was not happy when Tottenham were out of the Conference League because I thought ‘Wow, I know what Antonio Conte can do with teams when they are focused and he can train them physically’. I thought this will be a huge uplift for them in the domestic competition, and the same for Arsenal when they went out of the Cup. I thought it would be a huge boost for them, because they have a very young and talented team. To train them and to focus on one competition can be an advantage.”
United have complained about their schedule with the Red Devils’ 4-0 loss at Liverpool on Tuesday followed with huge clashes against Arsenal and Chelsea in the space of nine days.
Tuchel took aim at United over their complaints and suggested that a disappointing campaign can prove more taxing that one filled with success.
“It can be also a disadvantage if, maybe, you are Manchester United and you underperform and you are out of cups and you are out of European competitions too early for what you demand of yourself,” he said. “It can limit your spirit.
“It’s very difficult and if you build a team which is built for 60 or 65 games and suddenly you have only 40 and you have whole weeks to prepare for games it can be heavy on your shoulders. It can be more heavy than your heavy legs from playing all the time.”