Thomas Tuchel has revealed he was persuaded during a discussion with N’Golo Kante to let the midfielder feature against Brentford in midweek rather than resting him as planned.
The Frenchman played a key role in our Carabao Cup victory against the Bees, entering the action as a late substitute and helping us turn the game in our favour thanks to a late own goal from Pontus Jannson and a penalty from Jorginho, ensuring our place in the semi-finals where we will face Tottenham over two legs next year.
Tuchel did hint after our last Premier League outing against Wolves that he would give Kante the Brentford game off in order for him to rest and recuperate ahead of our Boxing Day trip to Aston Villa, but he had his mind changed by the midfielder.
‘N’Golo convinced me that he could be on the bench [against Brentford] which was very nice from him but also from the whole squad, because everyone was pushing to be on the bench or to be involved in the squad,’ explained Tuchel.
‘Nobody gave me the feeling that they would like a pause from this challenging run of games and that is the character I like to see. N’Golo convinced me that he would prefer to be on the bench and to play some minutes rather than having a full rest.
‘We decided to go with N’Golo’s wishes after discussing it with him but also from checking all his data from the last week and we had the green light to give him 20–25 minutes of action.
‘I have praised him so many times and of course he makes a difference. There are simply no other words left to describe him. He is an outstanding talent who would help every single team in the world.’
Meanwhile our head coach also had positive words for Christian Pulisic for the way the American has stepped up as a central striker while the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have been sidelined.
While acknowledging it is not Christian’s most favoured position, the boss stated his delight in what the American has offered the team and his happiness at offering him more minutes.
‘It’s good for Christian to have minutes,’ said Tuchel.
‘Is it his best position where he feels most comfortable? Probably not. But in the moment he is doing well, he’s fighting hard for the team and to gain confidence and to get a flow for the games.
‘While he is fighting, we are supporting him and there is absolutely no problem there.’