Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel raised some eyebrows with his team selection for Sunday’s game against Manchester United by leaving out Timo Werner. However, the head coach insisted the decision wasn’t a knock on the forward, but was made due to this week’s fixtures.
Chelsea face Liverpool this week in what will be a tough fixture for the Blues.
After a congested fixture schedule, they travel to Merseyside for the game at Anfield knowing they can further the gap between themselves and the resining champions.
And that game was the reason for Tuchel opting to leave out Werner against United on Sunday.
Chelsea welcomed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to Stamford Bridge on Sunday in a crunch game in the race for the top four spots.
Tuchel’s side went into the game sat in fifth, with the chance to leapfrog West Ham and put themselves just three points behind United with a win.
But despite the magnitude of the game, Tuchel insisted that Thursday’s game against Liverpool would better suit the German forward.
He said before the match: “We had the feeling to give Timo a little break to have him from the bench and also fresh for the fixture against Liverpool.”
Werner had started all of Chelsea’s five previous Premier League games, having rediscovered some of his confidence after the change of management.
And he also broke his run of games without finding the net by scoring earlier in February against Newcastle.
But Tuchel’s Werner snub freed up a space in the side for Hakim Ziyech to take up, with the new signing playing just his 13th league game for the side.
The playmaker, who signed from Ajax last summer, has seen his debut season at the club disrupted by injuries.
But Tuchel insisted his cameo appearance against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League during the week earned him the right to play.
He said: “Hakim is a different kind of player. He deserves to start. He had a good impact in the game against Atletico.”
Tuchel also suggested that the inclusion of N’Golo Kante was designed to combat the presence of Bruno Fernandes.
He said: “We trust N’Golo and Kova [Matteo Kovacic] to be close to him. He is a key player, the guy who delivers passes behind the defence. He can be a threat with all the guys upfront and their speed.
“He is a quality player but we have quality players and the challenge is to defend the areas he’ll hang around with N’Golo and Kova.”