Thomas Tuchel bemoaned Chelsea’s fitness problems after his side were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Everton, saying it was the ‘big difference’ separating them from Premier League title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.
Mason Mount scored his fourth goal in as many league games to put Chelsea in front in the 70th minute at Stamford Bridge, but the Toffees found an immediate equaliser through Jarrad Branthwaite.
Jordan Pickford shone between the sticks and had earlier denied Christian Pulisic, Reece James, Jorginho and three efforts from Mount while the score was goalless in west London.
Thiago Silva also had a late header kept out by the England goalkeeper and Chelsea’s players were met with a chorus of boos at the full-time whistle as their title charge suffered a significant setback.
The result means the Blues trail leaders Manchester City by four points in the table, while Liverpool beat Newcastle in Thursday’s other fixture to stay within a point of the reigning champions.
‘It was the the same story against Burnley and almost the same story then against Leeds where we escaped with three points with a late penalty,’ a frustrated Tuchel told beIN SPORTS shortly after the draw.
‘It’s a bit of the same story today. We put in a huge effort for one goal and the opponent puts in a minimum effort for the same amount of goals so you end up with a bad result.’
Asked what was missing in Chelsea’s display, the German replied: ‘We played a very good first half, we had enough chances to be minimum two goals ahead, we were not and it made our lives difficult.
‘Then we finally scored and, like in the last four or five games, we cannot keep the lead, we lose the lead again and I don’t know why at the moment.
‘It’s just a fact and if a fact repeats itself like five times, we need to accept it and we cannot look away from it.
‘We get punished for not a lot, but we get punished in consecutive games.’
Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell – already sidelined with a knee injury – tested positive for Covid-19 in the lead-up and could not be considered for selection versus Everton.
Kai Havertz and Mateo Kovacic were also ruled out of the match through illness, with fitness problems stacking up ahead of a busy winter period – should games go ahead as planned amid a rise in cases of the Omicron variant.
Though reluctant to use it as an excuse, Tuchel suggested Chelsea’s growing list of unavailable players was what separated them from their title rivals.
‘The big difference is that City and Liverpool have no injured players,’ the ex-PSG and Dortmund boss went on.
‘We have like six or seven players out, this can happen and you need the whole squad to be competitive and if not we struggle.
‘It’s not a problem, but we have to accept it. Totally unnecessary today, but it happens to us in the moment.’
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