Thomas Tuchel to meet Romelu Lukaku for Chelsea showdown talks on Monday

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Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku who is expected to be omitted from Chelsea's match squad to face Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, - Thomas Tuchel to meet Romelu Lukaku for Chelsea showdown talks on Monday - PA
Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku who is expected to be omitted from Chelsea's match squad to face Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, - Thomas Tuchel to meet Romelu Lukaku for Chelsea showdown talks on Monday - PA

Thomas Tuchel will meet Romelu Lukaku on Monday for showdown talks over whether or not Chesea’s record signing will return to his squad after the Belgian was dropped for the draw with Liverpool.

Chelsea head coach Tuchel also revealed that he consulted a group of his players before deciding on the initial punishment for Lukaku’s controversial interview in which he claimed he had not been happy at Stamford Bridge.

Goals from Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic rescued a 2-2 draw for Chelsea against Liverpool, but the result did Premier League leaders Manchester City the biggest favour.

Chelsea entertain Tottenham Hotspur, managed by former head coach Antonio Conte, in the first-leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday night and Tuchel must decide whether or not to offer Lukaku an olive branch.

“We will decide it tomorrow (Monday), have a meeting from there and inform you,” said Tuchel. “He is our player, there is always a way back, we will clear this behind closed doors and once we have made a decision and Romelu knows, you will maybe know also. It is not to be discussed now.

“On Saturday, there were new statements (from the interview) and it got too big, too much noise and we lost totally the focus of the match. It was simply the decision to protect the match like this. It was too much noise. This was clear he will not be in the squad, will not play.

“The decision was taken to protect Romelu from a rash decision because we need to speak with him, read the full interview and stay calm, and not lose our heads.”

Tuchel insisted that he did not believe the fall-out over Lukaku’s interview had become a personal battle between the pair, adding: “It’s not the worst thing in the world and it’s not the first time an interview out there causes some noise nobody needs. But we can handle it. I don’t feel a personal attack.”

Thomas Tuchel has been annoyed by several officiating decisions against Chelsea in the past week - AP
Thomas Tuchel has been annoyed by several officiating decisions against Chelsea in the past week - AP

On seeking guidance from some of his players, Tuchel said: “I don’t take decisions in my office and circulating around my thoughts. I take decisions for the team and I have five or six players to listen to and hear their opinion, and what they think and then I take my decisions once I hear them out.

“It’s not a personal thing for me to decide because of my belief, we have a squad to protect with strong beliefs and strong values.”

Tuchel offered no guarantee that Lukaku will return to his squad on Wednesday night, with Monday’s meeting set to be key to whether or not he is quickly handed a second chance.

“He’s our player, he will stay our player, we will always protect our player,” said Tuchel. “First we need to evaluate the situation, not listen to media or pressure, understand what he said and why he said it. Then we will take the decision if he is good to go for Wednesday.

“I cannot tell you right now because we need to talk and understand the situation more and on we go. Once the situation is clear, he will stay our player and we will protect our player.”

Tuchel was pleased with the draw, but was adamant Liverpool goal-scorer Sadio Mane should have been sent off inside the first minute for a challenge on Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta.

“I hate to say it because I love Mane and he is a nice guy and a top player, but it is a red card,” said Tuchel. “The elbow is in the face - it doesn't matter if you do this after 20 seconds or 20 minutes. We come from a game against Brighton where we miss Var calls in the box and suddenly Var is checking a goal against Kovacic.”

Azpilicueta added: “A clear red. I don't mind if it is five seconds into the game, it is a red. I don't understand, we have had these kind of decisions the other day. It is a clear red card. We are getting these decisions against us and it can change the way of the game. I watched the replay, but I didn't need this because live I knew it was a red.”

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk admitted the result left the Premier League title in the hands of Manchester City, saying: “They have the title maybe to lose at the moment, but anything can happen still. We have been there and gave it away, so anything is possible. We focus on ourselves, we just have to get results, play good football and win games.”

Mane should have seen red - video officials have to get their acts together

By Keith Hackett

The reality of the Sadio Mane incident is that it was a red card. You could say that he does not fix eyes on Cesar Azpilicueta but that is irrelevant. It is a disguise and cannot take away from the fact it was a dismissal offence.

He has a clenched fist and that is the big indicator for a referee. Then he used the elbow as a weapon, endangering his opponent. The arm and the elbow are high, not to gain elevation.

In fairness to Anthony Taylor, it has come straight out of the blocks and he has actually done well to detect an offence and shown a yellow. It was a big-game atmosphere and in those circumstances sometimes you get leniency early in game but it was still a straight red.

Cesar Azpilicueta says Sadio Mane challenge was 'clear red card' and calls for consistency - GETTY IMAGES
Cesar Azpilicueta says Sadio Mane challenge was 'clear red card' and calls for consistency - GETTY IMAGES

Also, you might have thought Var would come in and intervene to get Taylor to take another look on the monitor. He would have seen a raised left arm going straight into the face of Azpilicueta with a bent arm, clattering him. Mane was very lucky to escape without the maximum punishment.

Looking at Vars over the weekend, they have tried to keep out of it. If Taylor was given the monitor I think he would have wiped the yellow. We are seeing the difference of Vars recognising what a clear and obvious error to get involved in.

What they need to do is go back to the drawing board and examine the decisions to try to improve the quality of the outcome because at the moment it is all over the place.

We saw a clear foul by Ederson in Manchester City’s game against Arsenal, then Granit Xhaka is correctly penalised. We saw the correct intervention at Crystal Palace when there was a handball and Var came in and Manuel Lanzini scores. So it is hit and miss. They've got to get their act together.

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