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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel fumes at refereeing decisions as Brighton equaliser dents title hopes

A furious Thomas Tuchel was left fuming at refereeing decisions in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Brighton and insisted it is “stupid” to think his depleted side can compete for the title after they fell further behind leaders Manchester City.

Danny Welbeck’s injury-time goal, nodded in from a Marc Cucurella cross, cancelled out Romelu Lukaku’s first-half header at Stamford Bridge and left Chelsea eight points behind Pep Guardiola’s side in second place.

The Blues, already depleted by Covid and injuries, also lost Reece James and Andreas Christensen to hamstring and back problems respectively, but it was the refereeing which most irked Tuchel.

The 48-year-old felt Chelsea should have had a penalty in the second half when Christian Pulisic went to ground following a tackle by Joel Veltman, and he was also frustrated by Mike Dean’s decision to penalise Mason Mount before he put the ball into the empty Brighton net shortly before the equaliser.

“Honestly, I would never normally say it, but we have a 100 per cent penalty against Christian Pulisic and we have a 50-50 challenge from Mason Mount right before the equaliser when the ball is going into the net,” he said in his post-match press conference.

“Why does the referee even need to whistle before the ball is over the line? We have VAR to check. Why can we not wait and then check it, and then if he decides it’s a foul, decide it then?

“Is he so sure? Or does he want to keep the tension up?

“And the penalty is a joke. It’s honestly a joke from VAR not to interfere.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s draw with Brighton

Tuchel felt it was understandable his Chelsea side were below their best given their injury problems, which were compounded by the withdrawals of James and Christensen in the first half.

“We knew before that this was going to be a tough match against a strong side,” he added.

“They come well prepared. It’s always like this. I have not seen one team play a nice match against them, so it was clear we would struggle.

“We simply have way too many players of whom we don’t know what we can demand. They come from long injuries, they come from Covid. I simply don’t know what they are capable of doing.

“We started very, very well, until the injury for Reece James, which was a huge blow. Then we lose Andreas Christensen, who was until then again one of the top players on the pitch.

“At some point, it’s too much. That’s why I can understand that you struggle if you play against a Brighton side with nothing to lose and playing with confidence.”

Tuchel downbeat on title chances

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A frustrated Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea would be ‘stupid’ to believe they can compete for the Premier League title due to Covid-enforced absences and injuries

The draw leaves Chelsea lagging behind Manchester City, who beat Brentford in the other game on Wednesday, and Tuchel offered little reassurance to supporters that the Blues are capable of making up the gap given the cuirrent state of their squad.

“We have seven Covid cases, we have four or five key players out for six or more weeks,” he said. “How should we compete in a title race?

“Everyone else who has a full squad, and everybody in training every day, has the full power to come through this league.

“We would be stupid to think we can do it out of Covid and injuries and just play, and everybody would be stupid to do it without 23 fit players.”

Asked whether he felt the integrity of the Premier League season had been lost, he added: “This is the reality, this is where we are and we have to adapt to the demands of the situation which you are in.

“I competed very hard for the win at Brighton at home. I don’t know what I can expect from my players in terms of physicality, intensity or minutes. Nobody knows any more because we have never done something like this. We play trial and error and see what we can do.

“I will protect my team. We can play better but we need the full squad over weeks and weeks.”



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