Thomas Tuchel hopes to see Chelsea strikers outshine defenders in front of goal

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel admits his defenders cannot continue to outshine his strikers in front of goal if the club are to end the season with silverware.

Twelve of the Blues’ 26 top-flight goals this campaign have been scored by their rearguard following Reece James’ brace in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Newcastle.

The Premier League leaders continue the defence of their Champions League crown away to Swedish club Malmo on Tuesday evening.

Reece James, left, is Chelsea's leading Premier League goal-scorer
Reece James, left, is Chelsea’s leading Premier League goalscorer (Owen Humphreys/PA)

And while Tuchel – who remains without injured frontmen Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner – is happy for the goalscoring burden to be shared, he believes it is vital an attacker tops the charts come the end of the campaign.

“I think what any manager does in any team is you try not to rely on only one or two goalscorers,” said the German.

“At the same time, you also wish to rely on one or two consistent goalscorers because this is necessary if you want to reach the highest level in any competition.

“You need consistent goalscoring threats from your strikers.

“In the system that we play, it’s crucial that the wing-backs are there and have the freedom to be dangerous. Defenders need to be dangerous also for set-pieces.

“That’s the way it is right now – still we hope we can put our strikers in the end of the season on top of the list.”

James is Chelsea’s leading top-flight scorer with four after helping the club move three points clear at the top of the table with his second-half double at St James’ Park.

Fellow England international Ben Chilwell has three, Trevoh Chalobah has two, while Marcos Alonso, Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva have chipped in with one apiece.

While all of those men are traditionally regarded as defenders, Tuchel feels his fluid 3-4-2-1 system is giving players more freedom to roam forward.

“I think the statistic will look maybe a bit different if you interpret the wing-backs more as midfielders,” he said.

Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell has scored three Premier League goals this term
Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell has scored three Premier League goals this term (Tess Derry/PA)

“It’s not really a full-back position, it’s a wing-back position and it’s more, for me, a midfield position, so I would not call them defenders.

“They have to defend in some moments but they are more free to attack – it’s a shorter way to the opponent’s box than in the role as a full-back.

“It’s necessary that they are included and we bring them to the box at the end of our attacks to increase the goal threat.

“I am happy when we create chances, I’m happy when we have five, six players in the box to be dangerous.”

Chelsea sit second in Champions League Group H on six points.

A 1-0 success over Zenit St Petersburg and a 4-0 thrashing of upcoming opponents Malmo less than a fortnight ago came either side of a 1-0 loss at Juventus.

The Blues travel to Scandinavia once again devoid of the services of key trio Lukaku (ankle), Werner and Mateo Kovacic (both hamstring), while Mason Mount is still missing due to an illness which is not coronavirus-related.

However, the Blues’ ranks will be boosted by the return of Christian Pulisic following an ankle issue.

Malmo have yet to score a goal in the competition and, with Chelsea overwhelming favourites, Tuchel has warned his side to be wary of the opposition producing an “extraordinary” performance.

“I think it’s the fifth, sixth game in a row where we are considered as favourites,” said Tuchel.

Chelsea’s Mason Mount remains sidelined due to illness
Chelsea’s Mason Mount remains sidelined due to illness (Tess Derry/PA)

“I like a lot how my team approaches these matches because we put in a lot of effort and a lot of intensity.

“When you say very rightly that Malmo maybe needs an extraordinary performance then I think they will absolutely prepare for this and any team on this kind of level is ready to create an extraordinary performance, so we should be prepared.

“We should be humble and respectful enough towards the game and the opponent and anything can happen.

“Malmo also has nothing to lose, they can play with a lot of freedom, a lot of courage, they will be supported by an emotional crowd.”

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