Chelsea stars Hakim Ziyech and Romelu Lukaku were seen having a very tense conversation as they left the field at half time during their 1-1 draw at Brighton – although Thomas Tuchel played it down as ‘normal’.
The Blues dropped points yet again as they drew a blank for the eighth time this season in another hammer blow for their title chances – with Adam Webster’s header ensuring Graham Potter’s men left with a point.
Earlier, Ziyech’s angled strike had put Tuchel’s men ahead – though the Moroccan winger didn’t even celebrate the opener. And his moody attitude continued after speaking with Lukaku when Chelsea walked to the tunnel at the interval.
Ziyech covered his mouth while deep in discussion with Lukaku – as his Belgian team-mate gesticulated – their conversation continuing all the way down through to the Chelsea dressing room, despite Chelsea going in with a lead.
Ziyech and Lukaku were both heavily criticised after Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to title rivals Manchester City last Saturday – with the latter recently being forced to apologise after giving a bombshell interview with Italian media admitting he was unhappy at the club.
Tuchel played down the conversation in his post match press conference, claiming the chat was ‘normal’ – saying he was satisfied if his players weren’t happy with how they were playing.
The German also had no issue with Ziyech’s refusal to celebrate his goal, saying it showed just how tired his players were.
‘It’s normal that they talk, it’s normal that they are not happy, it’s normal that they don’t like it if we say that we want more from them, it’s normal,’ he said.
‘But I think even from the reaction of the goal you can see we’re tired. We’re relieved that we have a goal but it’s not the pure joy because they’re saving energy even then. That’s my feeling of the team right now.’
He added: ‘We look tired, and we are. We knew they were well prepared, we knew they had more time, less games to prepare for this match,’ said Tuchel.
‘You see at the end the reaction after the [final] whistle the stadium celebrates [the draw] like a victory. That’s what you face.
‘We need our full strength to overcome these obstacles, in the moment it’s difficult so no blame for the team, we tried everything but you can see we are mentally tired.
‘We need some days off, we have two days off and then we have two days to prepare our next match at home against Tottenham and then the boys need some days off. There’s no other solution.’