Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel hits out at Premier League’s scheduling of Leicester game

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 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel says there is “absolutely no reason” for the Premier League’s decision to schedule Chelsea’s crunch meeting with Leicester on Tuesday night, just over 72 hours after their meeting in the FA Cup final.

The Chelsea coach said it was “absolutely logical” to have played the League match, which could prove to be a playoff for a top-four place, on Wednesday, giving both sides an extra day’s rest following Leicester’s famous 1-0 win at Wembley.

Tuchel revealed he was concerned about the mental and physical impact of the schedule on his players, who have been competing on three fronts as they prepare for the Champions League Final against Manchester City on May 29.

“We never understood this and we said before that we could not understand because both teams are involved and it would have been easier for both teams to have had a Wednesday game because the next game is Sunday,” Tuchel said before the pre-match at Stamford Bridge.

“There is absolutely no reason to play Saturday, Tuesday, Sunday. It is absolutely logical to play the game on Wednesday. From a sporting side, nobody can disagree. But, okay, we were surprised we could not change and we cannot wish for another date to play, so we will be ready tomorrow.”

Since he arrived in the Premier League in January, no manager has chopped and changed his starting XI more than Tuchel, both underlining the strength of Chelsea’s squad and leading to suggestions that the German still does not know his best team.

“Maybe it is a mix of everything,” Tuchel said when asked for his interpretation of his tinkering. “To be very honest, I was a bit shocked that it was seven changes for the Arsenal game [last week] because it did not feel like it.

“It felt like this was necessary because of this huge demands that it was to play in all three competitions and that it took us to overcome Real Madrid-Fulham-Real Madrid series, which was very demanding physically and mentally.

“We have a schedule where we had many games where we had only two days’ time in between.

“Now again we arrive in the cup final only having two days. Now we arrive in the next game only having two days. I’m a bit worried if we only have two days to consistently push.”

Tuchel revealed he discussed every single member of his squad on a daily basis with his fitness coaches and the club’s medical staff to determine who was in a condition to play.

“You’re always a bit torn between not wanting to change at all and knowing I cannot play the next 10 games with the same squad,” he added.

“Overcoming FA Cup and Champions League rounds is what you wish for. But suddenly you end up in a pretty busy schedule and honestly we also mentally suffered from it.

“This race to top four, we were constantly pushing, pushing, pushing to close the gap. After the [Manchester] City match, for the first time we had these bonus points and everybody was playing in our favour and that weekend we couldn’t take it against Arsenal.

“And again the [top four] race is on. All this was very demanding.”

Leicester pocketed £900,000 more than Chelsea for winning the FA Cup for the first time but a place in next season’s Champions League is worth an estimated £60m.

Tuchel refused to say that Tuesday match was the more significant of the clubs’ back-to-back meetings but admitted the main target when he succeeded Frank Lampard was a place in the top four.

The FA via Getty Images
The FA via Getty Images

“It would look like I am a bad loser is I say ,‘Yes [Tuesday is the big one]’,” Tuchel said. “I am not a good loser but I want to be a respectful loser and I am not here to play the match down because of financial reasons.

“We lost a big match, it was a huge match for us, we put out the best team possible, we did not rest anybody because we had the feeling that this game tomorrow is more important.

“But, there is a but. Do we want to play Champions League next season? Yes, this is the target when I stepped into this club I want to be very clear – the task was ‘let’s try everything to be in the top four’. The task was not ‘let’s try everything to win the FA Cup’ because the FA Cup, as big as it is, does not bring you to Champions League football next season.

“It’s top four that brings us that. So, yes, tomorrow is another huge game but, like I said, this game was big for us. It was a final.

“Once you can collect silverware you try everything because simply out of respect. And me and the players – be very sure about this – we think zero about how much money we earn. This is not in our heads.”

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