Thomas Tuchel declared he would be “very angry” if any of Chelsea’s rivals unjustly take advantage of the Premier League’s COVID-19 emergency postponement rules.
The Chelsea head coach was left frustrated in December when an application to have the Blues’ game against Wolves postponed after a rash of positive cases in Tuchel’s squad was turned down.
On that occasion, a weakened Chelsea team battled to a 0-0 draw at Molineux, and Tuchel insists he has always made every effort to field a side during the pandemic.
At his news conference on Friday ahead of a trip to Manchester City, the German coach was asked whether he felt others team might be looking to bend the rules, taking into account players unavailable through injury or Africa Cup of Nations involvement when seeking postponements.
“I strongly, strongly hope that’s not the case,” Tuchel said, “because otherwise I would be very, very angry, because we are doing everything to make games happen.
“We were made to play when we thought we should maybe not, so I can only strongly hope that the rules are the same rules for everybody.”
The Premier League has mapped out guidance for clubs to follow when it comes to requesting a postponement for COVID-19 factors.
It states that when a club cannot field 13 outfield players from its squad list – or by using “appropriately experienced” under-21 players – a match will be postponed.
An away day W five years ago today! pic.twitter.com/cqzcBTqQWw
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 14, 2022
Chelsea possess formidable resources, even with injuries, illnesses and AFCON absences.
They have also recalled Kenedy from a loan with Flamengo, offering the 25-year-old winger a chance to reignite his Stamford Bridge career. He last featured for the Blues in the 2017-18 season and has since had loan spells at Newcastle United, Getafe, Granada and Flamengo.
With Ben Chilwell injured and an absentee for the foreseeable future, Tuchel needed extra options on the left. He believes Kenedy, despite playing much of his career as an attacking player, can prove adept as a left wing-back.
“Kenedy is back and I’m very happy about it,” Tuchel said. “it’s a huge opportunity for him to make his mark at this club and in this team.
“We cannot say Kenedy is the solution. He can be the solution, but the situation has not changed, we have long-term injuries with the wing-backs.”