Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea's mounting injury list is a major concern in the club's quest for the Premier League title. The manager's comments came in the aftermath of the Blues throwing away their lead to draw 1-1 with Everton at Stamford Bridge on Thursday (December 16).
Mason Mount put Chelsea ahead in the 70th minute with an excellent finish following a neat pass from Reece James. However, Everton bounced back just four minutes later through youngster Jarrad Branthwaite's first-ever Premier League goal. The Toffees then held on to take home a share of the spoils.
After the match, Tuchel was asked by the media if Chelsea's mistakes in defense are costing the team in an incredibly tight Premier League race. The Blues boss, however, pointed towards the club's injury problems, saying (as quoted by Football London):
"I'm concerned we have too many players out, six or seven players. This at the moment is the problem, one of the key problems. You know about the situation in central midfield for eight weeks and again all of our strikers are out, we had this situation four weeks ago where Romelu and Timo were injured for weeks."
The German tactician went on to add:
"So we struggle, obviously, with this and at the same point, we're always focused on the solution and guys we have on the pitch. We were strong enough today and I'm not so sure right now why we get punished like this."
As many as seven players missed Chelsea's match against Everton due to a combination of injuries and COVID-19.
Chelsea's injury issues massively hindering their bid for the Premier League
Chelsea have had to constantly deal with injuries since the start of the 2021-22 Premier League season. The most notable long-term absentee is Mateo Kovacic, who hasn't played for the Blues since October due to a combination of injuries and COVID-19.
N'Golo Kante was also absent for Chelsea for a brief period after sustaining an injury in recent weeks. He could only make the bench for their fixture against Everton and remained an unused substitute.
Ben Chilwell is also expected to be out until at least January after picking up a knee injury in November. Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner are yet to return to full match fitness after suffering hamstring injuries.
Lukaku did return to make a couple of appearances off the bench but failed to make the squad against Everton after contracting COVID-19. Chilwell, Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi have also tested positive for the virus. Kai Havertz, who also didn't feature against the Toffees, is said to be awaiting his test results.
The mounting injury list has seen Tuchel's side drop points in three of their last five Premier League fixtures.
This has meant that Chelsea, who were initially a point clear of Manchester City in the league standings, are now four points adrift of Pep Guardiola's side. They are also three points behind second-placed Liverpool.
Tuchel will know that if their recent blip prolongs for a few more games, Chelsea could crash out of the race for the Premier League title very prematurely.