Tuchel defends Lukaku after Man City defeat


Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel insisted Romelu Lukaku was not to blame for their 1-0 defeat to Manchester City and said he will question his own tactics after suffering their first loss of the Premier League season.

Gabriel Jesus‘ 53rd-minute strike settled a contest City dominated at Stamford Bridge with Lukaku an isolated figure for long periods, registering just 21 touches all afternoon — the fewest number of any player in either starting line-up.

Chelsea signed Lukaku from Inter Milan for €115 million this summer to help them mount a serious title challenge but he has now failed to score against both principal rivals — City and Liverpool.

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However, Tuchel said Lukaku suffered from a lack of service rather than any personal shortfall.

“I don’t think it is necessary to talk about Romelu’s struggle today,” he said.

“When we reached Romelu, the attack was already half over because there were not enough people and there was simply no belief and connection. This was a team problem, not an individual problem.”

Chelsea failed to register a shot on target in the entire game as City asserted control by dominating possession.

With Mason Mount absent due to a knock, Tuchel opted to leave Kai Havertz on the bench in favour of a more defensive three-man midfield of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho — the triumvirate that helped Chelsea beat Tottenham last weekend.

However, Chelsea were curiously passive until Havertz was introduced with 30 minutes remaining.

“We can debate endlessly and you will never have the answers. We decided for 5-3-2, I don’t think it is a matter of structure against City, it is a matter of decisions, adaptation to the opponent’s spaces, where you can find the spaces,” Tuchel said.

“We tried to have more connections in the build-up. We are in it together. We win together and we lose together and I will ask the question to myself :’Was it the right shape?’ But I’m not sure if the shape was decisive to the result.

“I think we lacked a little bit of freshness today. Kante has been ill for some days and I decided to let him start.

“Jorginho has had some problems and Thiago [Silva] could not start, so maybe today it is on me for not making the best choices in that sense.”

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