Tuchel Fights To Rekindle Chelsea Fire


Thomas Tuchel admits Chelsea are fighting to “survive” as the spluttering Champions League holders prepare to face Lille in the last 16 first leg on Tuesday.

Tuchel’s side have won their last five games in all competitions, but there was little joy on the German’s face when he reflected on Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace.

The honeymoon is definitely over for Tuchel as he approaches the business end of his first full season as Chelsea boss.

In just five months in charge last term, Tuchel led Chelsea to the Champions League crown and the FA Cup final, as well as a top four finish in the Premier League.

When Romelu Lukaku was signed from Inter Milan for a club record £97 million ($131 million), it was expected the Belgium striker would help Chelsea enjoy a period of sustained dominance.

Chelsea were tipped to emerge as serious challengers for the Premier League title and in the early weeks of this season it seemed they might live up to the hype.

But in the grip of a windswept winter in Britain, Tuchel has found it increasingly tricky to keep Chelsea from being blown off course.

The first signs of discontent behind the scenes emerged when Lukaku went public with complaints about the way he was being deployed by Tuchel.

Forced to apologise, Lukaku has cut a disconsolate figure ever since and remains without a league goal since December.

Lukaku was completely anonymous against Palace and had only seven touches — the lowest by a player over 90 minutes since Opta started recording the statistic in 2003-04.

That victory at Palace was only Chelsea’s third in their last nine league games, a dismal run that effectively shattered their title hopes.

Chelsea are 13 points behind leaders Manchester City, making retaining the Champions League their main goal for the rest of the season.

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