Thomas Tuchel was able to give his players a rare two consecutive days off this week but he says that alone will not ensure a refreshed challenge in our next Premier League game this weekend.
It has been relentless for the Blues in recent weeks with more games played in all competitions than anyone else in the top flight, but a Tuesday match at Brighton followed by a Sunday one against Spurs did afford the chance for everyone to go away and switch off on Wednesday and Thursday, although for Tuchel himself it was not perfect relaxation, as he had to visit the dentist!
‘It is hard to think about football when you are at the dentist,’ he smiled when discussing the recuperation period.
‘We needed it [the break], all of us. This is always a team effort and I felt the team mentally tired, which I could understand, and I felt them disappointed and frustrated after the last result and also the result at Man City.
‘It was harder for us to overcome the obstacles that it is normal to overcome in periods like this. There are reasons for it which we have talked about, reasons for which we cannot be blamed.
‘We don't want to make our excuses but we want to be adult and honest enough to look into the reasons why we maybe feel this kind of fatigue.
‘We were not so good all together on Tuesday at Brighton. That's why we played a draw. For example, how we conceded the goal you can see we lack a bit of freshness and the mental ability to step up again and again and not accept it.
‘The two days off alone does not solve the problems. It's on us now to use Friday and Saturday [training] to be absolutely right in attitude for Sunday.’
Following this weekend’s game, there is an international break for fixtures for non-European nations. For the vast majority of Chelsea players, that means a chance for more recovery time. Tuchel will give those who are not away or recovering from injury or illness a free week before returning for week of preparation ahead of our FA Cup fourth round tie and then the Club World Cup.
Further away on the horizon there is the resumption of the Champions League. There has been speculation in the media that for our second leg against Lille in France, unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country, although there is dialogue and meetings still to be had on that, and the game is not until the middle of March.
‘They are aware of it and at some point everybody who's not vaccinated will face some consequences,’ said Tuchel on the matter. ‘Does that make it wrong that they are not? I'm not so sure about it. I simply don't know. I took my decision for myself, the majority takes the decision to get vaccinated.
‘For us isolated as a club, isolated as a football team, there can be huge consequences for example if players are not allowed to travel to France. This can create problems for us if we are not able maybe to use key players. We are aware of it.’