Thomas Tuchel was left fuming at refereeing decisions in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Brighton and insisted it is “stupid” to think his depleted side can compete for the title after they fell further behind leaders Manchester City.
Danny Welbeck’s injury-time goal, nodded in from a Marc Cucurella cross, cancelled out Romelu Lukaku’s first-half header at Stamford Bridge and left Chelsea eight points behind Pep Guardiola’s side in second place.
The Blues, already depleted by COVID-19 and injuries, also lost Reece James and Andreas Christensen to hamstring and back problems respectively, but it was the refereeing that most irked Tuchel.
The 48-year-old felt Chelsea should have had a penalty in the second half when Christian Pulisic went to the ground following a tackle by Joel Veltman, and he was also frustrated by Mike Dean’s decision to penalise Mason Mount before he put the ball into the empty Brighton net shortly before the equaliser.
“Honestly, I would never normally say it, but we have a 100 per cent penalty against Christian Pulisic and we have a 50-50 challenge from Mason Mount right before the equaliser when the ball is going into the net,” Tuchel said in his post-match press conference.
“Why does the referee even need to whistle before the ball is over the line? We have VAR to check. Why can we not wait and then check it, and then if he decides it’s a foul, decide it then?
“Is he so sure? Or does he want to keep the tension up?
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Tuchel felt it was understandable his Chelsea side were below their best given their injury problems, which were compounded by the withdrawals of James and Christensen in the first half.
“We knew before that this was going to be a tough match against a strong side,” he added.
“They come well prepared. It’s always like this. I have not seen one team play a nice match against them, so it was clear we would struggle.
o“We simply have way too many players of whom we don’t know what we can demand. They come from long injuries, they come from COVID-19. I simply don’t know what they are capable of doing.
“We started very, very well, until the injury for Reece James, which was a huge blow. Then we lose Andreas Christensen, who was until then again one of the top players on the pitch.
“At some point, it’s too much. That’s why I can understand that you struggle if you play against a Brighton side with nothing to lose and playing with confidence.”