As soon as the lineup dropped I thought to myself ‘why is he starting so many of his key players at home to Malmo?’.
Yes, I get that after back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Juventus and after the team struggled to showcase their attacking qualities against Southampton and Brentford that they might have been in need of a confidence boost, but why take such a big risk in a game where he had five substitutes available to him if things weren’t going our way?
I know we eventually ended up scoring three goals against Southampton but you can’t escape the fact the scores were locked at 1-1 with just six minutes of normal time to play, and James Ward-Prowse’s sending off had a big part to play in us dragging ourselves over the line.
Many had expected Tuchel to afford some of his stars a rest against Malmo on Wednesday night but the Chelsea boss clearly had other ideas and the decision has come back to haunt him.
In the 20th minute, Romelu Lukaku bulldozed his way into the box before being brought down courtesy of a last-ditch attempt to win the ball.
Before Jorginho could step up to tuck away the resulting penalty and effectively end the game as a contest barely halfway through the first half, the physios were called to attend to Lukaku who was clearly in some discomfort after Malmo defender Lasse Nielsen had landed on his ankle.
The Belgian waved to the bench immediately after Jorginho doubled Chelsea’s lead to signal he was unable to continue. While the injury could have happened to anyone, the fact Lukaku returned to Cobham early from international duty after Roberto Martinez claimed he had muscle fatigue should perhaps have been a warning to Chelsea.
Wednesday night’s match represented the perfect opportunity for Tuchel to rest Lukaku and save him from such an injury.
I know it’s easy to don the hindsight cap and make such statements once the injury has happened, but surely a home clash with Malmo should be viewed as a chance to offer fringe players a game and save your stars for more intense tests?
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I really hope it’s nothing serious and with home clashes against Norwich in the league and then Southampton in the Carabao Cup, on paper we should have enough to get by even if Lukaku is forced to endure a spell on the sidelines.
Lukaku’s barren streak has been highlighted by many recently, yet he isn’t being helped by the side’s lack of creativity and I have no doubt that once we start to play with a little more freedom the Belgium international will rediscover his goalscoring touch.
Tuchel didn’t seem to regret his decision to start Lukaku against Malmo despite the injury, replying when asked if his team selection: “it was necessary that he [Lukaku] was on the pitch.”
I find this a little odd after he claimed only yesterday in the pre-match press conference that he felt his star striker had been overused.
As I said before, it felt as though we would have been able to cope without Lukaku for the next few games meaning we could afford him a rest – that was until Timo Werner also went down against Malmo clutching his left hamstring, of course.
The Germany international hobbled off and he too looks set to miss the next few games.
If Chelsea are to continue fighting on numerous fronts this season then Tuchel needs to use Lukaku wisely, otherwise, he’s likely to suffer fatigue and won’t be at his sharpest at the business end of the season.
The injuries picked up by Werner and Lukaku mean Kai Havertz is probably going to have to step up. The German scored a well-taken goal on Wednesday night having linked up with fellow substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi, and both players could now be in line for a run of games as Chelsea look to overcome the injury crisis they’ve been handed.
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