Despite admitting he faces tough decisions every few days to leave players on the bench or out of the matchday squad entirely, Thomas Tuchel insists he has inherited a perfect squad size at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues boss made the claim at his customary pre-match press conference at Cobham ahead of taking training and then travelling to West Yorkshire for tomorrow’s lunchtime clash with Leeds United.
Two of the group will miss out once again, though that still leaves the German with plenty of options throughout the team given the availability and numbers he has to choose from. There has been some suggestion that having to leave key players out of big games has proved problematic but Tuchel insisted the only frustration he had was not being able to use more of his players from the bench.
‘The size of the squad is actually perfect,’ he stated. ‘Big credit to our physical and medical departments that we can choose from so many players and that we are lucky with not having injuries for too long or for too many players.
‘The only thing that I’m missing is to have the possibility of five substitutes to use more players because it’s been a concern of mine for many years saying that we have to have the possibility to use more of our players.
‘If 11 players play and I can only substitute three then we have so many players that are not happy and I cannot reward. I was pushing for this at every club where I was coaching so it’s not just now with a big squad. This is the only regret that I have because there are players I would normally like to reward for their effort and their attitude.’
Tuchel confirmed that Thiago Silva will miss the trip to Elland Road, making it likely that Andreas Christensen will continue to deputise as the central defender in the back three. The Blues have not conceded a goal for almost nine hours with the Dane on the field and the Chelsea head coach insisted it was not a case of choosing between him and Thiago Silva once the Brazilian returns from injury.
‘They can play together for sure,’ explained Tuchel. ‘I’m very sure that Christensen can play on both sides of the back three and they can also play together as centre-backs in a back four as well.
‘The position in the middle is the best for Thiago but Andreas is also on the same level and he can also play on both sides so there is no problem.’
Looking ahead to our first Premier League trip to Leeds since December 2003, Tuchel recalled facing the Whites himself as a player and reflected on how his side must adapt to take on Marcelo Bielsa’s all-action team, as well as a playing surface that has frequently caused players to lose their footing in recent weeks.
‘When you are a manager in the Premier League, you have this challenge to face all these big clubs with huge reputations,’ added Tuchel. ‘I remember Leeds United when I was actually a player in the second division in Germany with Stuttgart.
‘We played against them in a famous game in the Champions League where they was a mistake in exchanging players [Stuttgart fielded an ineligible player in the second leg] and it had to be replayed.
‘There are big teams out there with big histories and Bielsa is clearly one of the most fascinating managers out there. He has built a strong squad, their style of play is very unique and very intense, which you can see in the data. They are a very attacking side and they try to win every game – if you look at their results, they have only two draws until this moment so they are brave, courageous and trust their physical capability of high-intensity runs.
‘If we can control the game then we will try to but there will be moments where you simply have to match their physicality and we need to find the squad that is ready for that. We also had some pictures of the pitch and we have to adapt to that as well because it is by far not the standard we are used to playing on so there are lots of things to adapt and to be ready for.’