Thomas Tuchel admits he would be “very, very angry” if he discovered rival teams were deviating from Premier League Covid emergency laws to suit their own needs.
Leicester have been allowed to postpone a match against Everton due to a combination of COVID-19 positive cases, injuries and players performing international duties at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Their match against Burnley was also halted on Saturday and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta claimed the derby against Tottenham could be in doubt after losing more players.
“I hope very much that this is not the case or I will be very angry,” Tuchel said when asked if he thought clubs were seeking a sporting advantage from the rules provided to ease the problems of Covid isolation.
“We do everything we can to make matches happen and we were playing when we thought maybe we shouldn’t. I can only hope very much that the rules are the same for everyone.
Thomas Tuchel made an impassioned plea for clarification of the rules for postponing at the present time
Following Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has suggested they may need to postpone Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur due to a shortage of available players.
The Premier League rejected Chelsea’s request to postpone a match at Wolverhampton in December, when seven first-team players tested positive and the club’s academy was closed due to the outbreak.
They tied 0-0 at Molino, where Tuchel was forced to play with players he feared were unprepared after injury. He named only six substitutes, including two goalkeepers.
Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen will miss the top-of-the-table game in Manchester City on Saturday after testing positive for the virus.
The Blues are missing first-choice goalkeeper Edward Mendy, who is participating in the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, who has been mired in the Covid crisis for the past four weeks.
Speaking after the goalless draw with Liverpool in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final, Arteta said in response to a question about a possible postponement.
“[Postponement] It’s a possibility in every game, from our side and from the opponent’s side with the problems everyone has, and it happens every week. But we are trying to prepare for the match thinking we will play.”
According to the Premier League’s rules, which are detailed on their website, clubs must provide the following when applying for a match postponement:
- Players and staff who have returned a positive COVID-19 test result, their vaccination status and the source of their infection, if known.
- Players and staff who are self-isolating
- Players who are not available to play due to injury or illness
- Players on the club team roster who are still available to play in the match, including players with appropriate under-21 experience (which includes players under 21 who have played for the club or another club in the Premier League, the English Football League or an outside club in current season. However, any player under the age of 21 who is involved in a match in the third round of the club’s FA Cup and has not played in any of the club’s other first-team competitions this season will not be considered by the Board as having appropriate experience)
- Medical information support to check each player’s unavailable status, which will be reviewed by the league’s medical advisors
Christensen’s absence adds to Tuchel’s defensive problems, who are already missing wingers Ben Chilwell and Reece James and midfielder Trevoh Chalobah through injury.
Kennedy, who can play as a left-back, has been called up from loan to Flamengo, and the Chelsea boss claims he has a chance to revive his career at Stamford Bridge.
“This is a great opportunity for him to make his mark at this club,” Tuchel said. We will push it and support it as best we can. We can’t say Kennedy is the solution, but it could be.
We have injuries at the back. We have suffered a lot. We suffered a lot in the midfield from Covid and injuries, and now the midfielders are starting to come back and suffer in the center of defence.”
Leicester’s trip to Burnley has become the 20th Premier League game to be postponed this season
Chelsea are also trying to recall left-back Emerson Palmieri from his loan at Lyon and are considering a move in the transfer market to bolster a right-wing full-back.
Tuchel’s squad tested positive for the Covid virus last month, with Mateo Kovacic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner all forced into isolation in recent weeks.
The Blues had just managed to get a clean slate of coronavirus in Wednesday’s 1-0 win in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham.
Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante returned after isolation to be seated on the bench in north London in the middle of the week, but Chelsea only lasted two days without any Covid absents.
Chelsea boss Tuchel has lamented the uncertainty over Covid-19 testing as it is closer to ‘catching fish’, with a handful of players continuing to find their feet after an absence and others now missing again.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has seen three consecutive league matches postponed
“For the news that Andreas Christensen will be out again after we’ve waited so long for him, and now he’s playing hard, he’s out again,” Tuchel said.
It’s a setback for everyone, for us mentally. We need to overplay to catch City and be at the top of the Premier League. And to over-perform, we simply need everyone.
It’s Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante, but Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante in one training session.
“We need a little more fighting to get the extra edge out. That’s what we’re missing, not in a bad way, but it’s not enough. I’ve finally got my players back, and it’s like fishing.