The Blues striker has been on the fringes of the squad since the arrival of the new manager in January
Thomas Tuchel explained why Tammy Abraham has been struggling to get on the pitch despite him remaining Chelsea top scorer this season, with 12 goals in all competitions.
With Kai Havertz increasingly being used as a central striker, Abraham has fallen further down the pecking order with Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud also in the squad.
The 22-year-old has completed just one match under Tuchel and he has been substituted twice at half time. He has suffered an ankle injury in his other Premier League start against Newcastle, which kept him out for several weeks.
What he said?
With rumours growing about a possible departure from Stamford Bridge this summer, Tuchel addressed why England international Abraham has struggled to earn minutes during his time at the club.
“Tammy has had a bit of a rough time,” Tuchel said ahead of their trip to face London rivals Crystal Palace.
“He started twice or three times and was twice substituted for tactical reasons at half-time. He could not have the impact he demands from himself and we wish from him.
“Then he was injured and lost a bit the connection and possibility to fight for his place in the squad. The squad has played very well without him, we’ve had a lot of results without him. Now we’re in the decisive part of the season where it’s not so easy to bring players who are injured into the shape.
“We have only three changes, which is a big, big thing. It’s a big handicap because three changes most of the time means you only have two because the last one is one you don’t want to lose too early. So circumstances are not easy, but it’s on Tammy to do everything possible to let him out.
“We have a full squad now. We have 22 players on the training pitch and it’s very, very hard to select the 18 players for Premier League matches. We can only change three times but in the offensive position, it is always part to have a huge impact in only some minutes.
“Nothing has changed. We demand a lot of Tammy, he demands a lot of himself, and he is using every minute to convince us that he needs to be on the pitch. From there we go on and every three days there is a match. Hopefully, he stays fit and plays a key role at the end of the season.”
Has Abraham been good enough to start?
His 12 goals, along with six assists, have come in just 1,516 minutes, which is almost half the number of minutes that Werner has played this season.
Having struggled for games under Lampard at times this season, Giroud has overtaken Abraham’s total minutes played this season, with one fewer goal to show for it.
However, Tuchel is pleased with the work rate shown by Werner. In Tuchel’s pressing system, he talks of the importance of defending from the front, despite him lacking confidence in front of goal.
Furthermore, he is trialling Havertz as a false nine in the centre of his attack, but he hasn’t been able to score since being moved into that position by Tuchel. Similarly, the Blues are looking for goals from elsewhere, with Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic having recently netted.
What’s happening with Pulisic?
Tuchel says Christian Pulisic needs to overcome his fitness issues to deliver the kind of strike rate he achieved last season. His seven goals in 11 games at the end of last season helped Chelsea to a top-four finish while also getting them into the FA Cup final, which they lost to Arsenal.
“I think for Pulisic, fitness is always important because he has this huge physical impact because of the number of sprints and the amount of intensity that he can give to a team on the highest level,” Tuchel said. “This is one of his biggest strengths.
“The other thing is he needs to feel confident and calm mentally and then he can be a huge weapon for us. He scored in the last game against West Brom. Unfortunately, the overall game and his need to go off the pitch at half-time clouded the goal and the impact he could have had in that game.
“Again, he came close to scoring [versus Porto]. He had a huge impact from the bench.
“You have to take of him and that he hopefully will not be reinjured because I feel him stronger and stronger, more self-confident and he can be a decisive factor in the next game with his speed and ability to dribble and his ability to arrive in the box in dangerous situations and balls from the side and crosses he has the feeling to arrive and score.
“Hopefully, he can have that impact and it is our job to push him there and to calm his mind that he feels the trust and feels confident.”