Thomas Tuchel has admitted that injury issues have hampered opportunities for Armando Broja in the early part of the new season, though he believes there is still a huge chance for the young striker to make an impression this term as a Chelsea player.
Broja enjoyed a positive Premier League loan at Southampton in 2021/22, scoring nine goals in total, and has featured in both our opening league matches on his return from the South Coast.
The boss revealed that his Albanian international centre-forward would miss the trip to Leeds with a minor injury, which was frustrating for all concerned, but the 20-year-old’s ambition to break through at Stamford Bridge should not be underestimated.
‘We know enough about him but it’s one thing to perform on a loan and another thing to perform within a club like Chelsea so this is the next step,’ he said.
‘While he’s doing the next step, he was injured in pre-season and now he is injured again so this doesn’t help his own ambitions and doesn’t help us in having a clear view on what he can give us.
‘Given the size of the squad at the moment, I would say it’s a huge chance for Armando to have an impact at Chelsea. I understand that it's his clear ambition and goal to make this step here so it’s on him. He has our full trust and support but unfortunately right now it’s the second time he’s injured in a short period of time and it holds him back for that reason.’
Another selection decision for Sunday’s visit to Elland Road centres on the left-hand side of defence, where Ben Chilwell and Marc Cucurella are competing to start. The former played 90 minutes for our development squad at the start of the week as he continues to build fitness following a long-term knee injury, while our new Spanish signing impressed on his home debut against Tottenham.
Tuchel indicated there may be times when the pair are fighting for the same place and other occasions when they can play together, depending on the system.
‘I would say if we play a back four then they are competing for the same place,’ he explained.
‘If we play a back five, it’s not 100 per cent because Ben is a clear wing-back and Marc is both - he can play in the back three and as a wing-back.’
The Blues are looking to register back-to-back league victories at the home of our old rivals for the first time, a statistic Tuchel was surprised to hear in the build-up to our journey up the M1. However, the boss insisted it would be a tough ask against Jesse Marsch’s men, who have the same number of points on the board as us after the opening two matches.
‘I expect a high intensity game, a high pressing team from Leeds and a very emotional stadium,’ Tuchel stated. ‘We had a fantastic game last season at Elland Road. We scored very early and we were very dominant, very focused and concentrated and effective in front of goal.
‘Of course the early red card played into our hands but still it was a very good performance and this is what we expect - repetitive intensity, high pressing and a team that loves the chaos. They don’t get frustrated by mistakes, they accept them, so we have to manage our expectations and our level of acceptance for mistakes as well because you cannot play without mistakes against these teams.’
While Tuchel is still awaiting the consequences of his red card following Sunday’s feisty London derby with Spurs, he admitted to reflecting on the handshake incident with Antonio Conte with self-deprecation
‘Of course we laugh, it’s very important to laugh about ourselves,’ he added. ‘I was laughing in the dressing room because it was the heat of the match and for me it was not that bad. It was a handshake that was a bit too long and too heavy, I admit it, but no harm was done at least from my side.
‘He spoke Italian to me so we didn’t insult each other. It would have ended very quickly if there were not 20 people around us that made it look much worse than it actually was. If you have a reaction like this then you need to live with the reaction towards it and of course I laugh about myself.
‘I saw quite a lot because everybody makes fun of me here in the building, as you can imagine. I think it was passion between two men who fought for their team and no more so I hope they don’t make more out of it.
‘As you hopefully saw before when we played Tottenham last season with Conte and now, I have nothing but the biggest respect for him and this will not change because of that incident.’