London (AFP) – Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says he would be “very angry” if he discovered that rival Premier League clubs were abusing coronavirus postponement rules after his club’s request to call off a match fell on deaf ears.
The Blues asked for their game against Wolves on December 19 to be postponed after seven Covid-19 cases in their camp. The match ended in a goalless draw.
Burnley’s home game against Leicester, due to be played on Saturday, is the latest to be called off, due to injuries and coronavirus cases in Sean Dyche’s squad.
Tuchel said Friday that Chelsea were doing everything they could to make sure their games were going ahead and hoped others were taking the same approach.
Asked if he thought some clubs were attempting to push the limits on postponements with tactics such as including general injuries and Africa Cup of Nations absentees, Tuchel replied: “I strongly, strongly hope that’s not the case, because otherwise I would be very, very angry.
“Because we are doing everything to make games happen. And we were made to play when we thought we should maybe not.
“So I can only strongly hope that the rules are the same for everybody.”
Tuchel lamented his side’s lingering Covid issues after Denmark centre-back Andreas Christensen was ruled out of Saturday’s trip to runaway leaders Manchester City, saying the situation was “like catching fish”.
Christensen had only just returned from a back injury to ease Chelsea’s defensive problems, but now faces another spell on the sidelines.
“To have the news that Andreas Christensen is again out after we waited so long for him, and now he plays so, so strong, and again he’s out — it’s a bit of a setback for everybody, for us mentally,” said Tuchel.
“We have Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante back, but it is Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante with one training session.”
– ‘Benchmark’ City –
Tuchel said Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge could be over already if they lose at “benchmark” City.
Chelsea, Liverpool and City appeared to be set for a thrilling three-way title race a few weeks ago but the defending champions have won 11 straight league games to race 10 points clear.
“The biggest difference in the season as far as I’m concerned is that they dealt better with injuries and the Covid situation,” said Tuchel, whose side beat City in last year’s Champions League final.
“Maybe it’s luck, maybe they do it better, whatever, but they have less injuries from key players, less players out and less weeks where they miss them.”
The German boss said City were the best team in England.
“You need to be on your edge and at the very highest level if you want to compete with Man City,” he added.
“They are the benchmark, they are the best team in England right now. This is something we have to admit realistically.”
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