Chelsea v Malmo Match in Pictures
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Chelsea have been dealt a blow in the Premier League title race after the club’s medical staff ruled that talismanic striker Romelu Lukaku could miss up to four weeks of action with an ankle injury, reports claim. The Belgian picked up the problem in the Blues’ 4-0 demolition of Malmo in the Champions League on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge, as supporters questioned Thomas Tuchel’s decision to field his frontman.
After the game, the German conceded that Lukaku has played far too many matches for club and country in recent months but still, he did not want to rest his record signing against the Swedish outfit.
With Lukaku out of form, he instead saw the Champions League group game as the perfect opportunity to rebuild some confidence ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash with Norwich.
But the decision soon backfired as Lukaku hobbled off in the first half, leaving Tuchel facing a nervous wait to discover the extent of the injury.
According to The Sun, Lukaku will not miss up to four weeks of action.
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After a rather challenging start to the Premier League season, Chelsea sit top of the pile ahead of their upcoming favourable run that sees the likes of Norwich, Newcastle, Burnley and Leicester in the next four weeks.
Chelsea then take on Manchester United on November 28 and Lukaku will be desperate to ensure he is back fit and firing against his former side.
Speaking after the match, Tuchel explained his decision to start with Lukaku, accepting that he may receive scrutiny from Chelsea supporters.
“If I knew before I wouldn’t have done it. But you can’t know it before and it was necessary that he was on the pitch and he started very strong,” Tuchel said.
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“I spoke with him about the situation, that I think he carries a bit of mental fatigue around with him. I think that is also normal but he is our number nine and is our reference upfront.
“The best thing against mental fatigue is a goal and we knew we could be the dominant team. We knew we wanted to build our attack today with Mason and Timo around him and him as the reference.
“I had the strong belief that in a Champions League match he could turn things around in terms of scoring and being decisive, which he did because he was super strong in our start. He took the foul and without him maybe it’s not 2-0
“So I don’t regret it. It’s not a muscle injury or because of physical fatigue. He is a little bit overplayed, this is my opinion and maybe I’m not even right. But this was a moment to give him confidence and let him play. I don’t regret it, things like this can happen. It was bad luck.”
To make matters worse for Tuchel, Lukaku’s strike partner Timo Werner also picked up a hamstring problem.
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The German forward is expected to be on the sidelines longer than Lukaku with Chelsea now down to bare bones in attack.
Christian Pulisic has not played since scoring in the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season due to an ankle problem.
Hakim Ziyech has also been missing in recent matches with Kai Havertz now expected to lead the line.
Tammy Abraham may now just be wondering what might have been if he’d stayed at Chelsea despite starting life in Italy with Roma impressively.
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