Chelsea: Tuchel opens up on Kepa and Rudiger incident
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Thiago Silva has insisted that he and his Chelsea team-mates are fully on board with Thomas Tuchel’s vision for the club despite rumours of discontent within their ranks after the humiliating 5-2 defeat by West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The result marked the first loss of Tuchel’s reign in all competitions, leaving Chelsea with a battle to retain their Champions League status into next season ahead of an in-form West Ham United side who are gunning for a top-four finish.
Silva was sent off within the opening 30 minutes at Stamford Bridge on Saturday after receiving two early yellow cards, a development that allowed the Baggies to secure a famous win and an important three points in their bid for top-flight survival.
Suggestions of an internal rift at Chelsea followed the final whistle, with Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga sparking fears of a major problem behind closed doors after their involvement in a training-ground bust-up earlier this week.
But Silva, who helped Paris Saint-Germain to reach a maiden Champions League final under Tuchel’s guidance last season, has stressed that the Blues remain firmly behind their manager ahead of their quarter-final first-leg clash against Porto on Wednesday evening.
“Since the first game against Wolves, he made some tactical changes in the team, saying what he’d like the team to do, so you can see the coach has already put his mark here,” Silva told Chelsea’s official website.
“His way of playing has convinced the players that it’s possible to hold the ball and be aggressive when necessary, so we get on the field knowing basically all that we have to do.
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“I have known for two years all I have to do on the field, when to go up, when to hold the ball. Often, other players take a little longer getting the coach’s timing.
“But surprisingly, they haven’t taken long to understand Tuchel’s way of playing and behaving in the field.”
Chelsea will be hoping to seal their place in the last four of the Champions League by overcoming the challenge of Porto, who knocked out Italian giants Juventus in the previous round, over two legs.
Silva also claimed that despite Saturday’s loss threatening to put a dark cloud over Tuchel’s first half-season in charge, he believes that his side can achieve great things in Europe before the end of the campaign, highlighting their rapid improvement since Frank Lampard’s departure with the exception of Saturday’s defeat.
“We’re going in the right direction right now, getting wins and feeling really motivated but we are also in a new beginning, with a new coach and a new style,” added Silva.
“Of course there are ups and downs in a long season, especially when the team is very young, but I believe we’re fully capable of getting far in the Champions League.
“We’ve got great quality and, especially in knockout games, you just have to hope the opponent isn’t having a good day and that you are. This can change the season completely for a team with big dreams.”
Silva could be in line to start at the back for Chelsea on Wednesday evening at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville, the venue selected to host both legs against Porto as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Tuchel confirmed on Tuesday that both N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic will be involved after initial doubts over their fitness, while out-of-favour striker Tammy Abraham is preparing to make his long-awaited return to the matchday squad after missing out on each of Chelsea’s last eight fixtures.
“They are fit enough to be in the squad and will be in the squad so this is good news,” Tuchel told reporters.
“Christian went out right before the injury could happen [against West Brom]. He said at half-time he felt if he continued it would be an injury coming so we had to take him off.
“Tammy is in the squad and NG [Kante] just did the last test and will be on the bench. He feels very comfortable and comfortable enough to be on the bench.”
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