Thomas Tuchel responded to Mikel Arteta’s fiery rant last month about Arsenal’s busy fixture schedule. The Blues’ re-scheduled clash with Arsenal is set to take place this evening [Wednesday], just a few days after their defeat to Southampton and not too long before Saturday’s early kick-off with Manchester United.
Many Premier League managers, including Tuchel himself, have furiously ranted about the compacted fixture schedule this season. Arteta did so last month, saying: “Thank you so much to the Premier League for doing that. And they’ve done it again when we have to play Chelsea and Manchester United.
“So if they want to give them any advantage, I say to them today: ‘Thank you so much for doing that. It is always, it’s BT [Sport], it’s Sky [Sports], it is this, it is that. But the one that is affected is Arsenal, and the only thing that I care [about], and we care [about] is Arsenal. And for Arsenal, it is not fair.”
Ahead of Chelsea vs Arsenal, later on this evening, Tuchel was asked about Arteta’s comments in March and what his thoughts were. “You can use the situation however you want to use it. You can use it to feel very tired – and we feel the challenge actually at the moment mentally and physically,” the Chelsea head coach said on Tuesday afternoon in his pre-match press conference.
“You can use that for whatever, a half-excuse if things go wrong, or you can just accept the challenge and go from there. This is what we try to do.
“Personally, I was not happy when Tottenham went out of the Conference League because I thought: ‘Wow, I know what Antonio Conte can do with teams when they are focused, he can train them physically. This will be a huge uplift for them in domestic competition.’
“It was the same for Arsenal when they went out the FA Cup. I thought it would be a huge boost for them because they are a young and talented team, and to be able to train them and focus on one competition can be an advantage. But, it can also be a disadvantage.
“Maybe – and you mention Manchester United – if you underperform, out of cups and European competitions too early for what you demand of yourself, it can limit your spirit, can have an effect on the atmosphere. So it’s very, very different. If you build a team that is built for playing 65 games and suddenly you only have 40 and have whole weeks to prepare for games, it can also be heavy on your shoulders.
“It can be heavier than the heavy legs from playing all the time. So I understand that, on paper, they maybe have an advantage. But the atmosphere that can build from under-performing your own demands, you can feel it every on your shoulders. He [Arteta] must have his reasons, and maybe he felt it in this way. But compared to us, it cannot be about the minutes or which day they play.”