“Personally, I was not happy when Tottenham were out of the (Europe) Conference League,” said Tuchel. “Because I thought like, ‘wow, I know what Antonio Conte can do with teams when they are focused, when he can train them physically’. I thought, ‘this will be a huge uplift for them in the domestic competition’. And the same for Arsenal when they went out of the Cup, I thought, ‘this will be a huge boost for them’ because they have a very young, talented team, to train them, to be focussed on one competition’.”
Asked whether or not Arsenal, Tottenham and United were advantaged in the Premier League by playing fewer games in Europe and in cup competitions than Chelsea, Tuchel replied: “They were given an advantage I think. A huge advantage, of course.
“But it always depends on what you make of your situation. We can use it as an excuse, they can use it too. You use the situation in the way you want. You can use it to feel very tired and we feel the challenge at the moment, mentally and physically. You can already have half an excuse ready for if things go wrong, or we can just accept it and accept the challenge, and go from there.
“It (fewer games) can be an advantage, but it can also be a disadvantage if, like Manchester United, you underperform, if you are out of cups, if you are out of European competitions too early for what you demand of yourself. It can limit your spirit, it can have an effect on the atmosphere.
“It’s very, very different if you build a team for 65 games and suddenly you have only 40, and you have whole weeks to prepare for games, it can also be heavy on your shoulders. It can be more heavy than your heavy legs by playing all the time. So I understand that it might seem on paper as an advantage, but the atmosphere you build by underperforming on your own demands, you can feel it heavy on your shoulders.”
Tuchel though made it clear where he felt any sympathy should lie in terms of the schedules Chelsea and Arsenal have faced, following Arteta’s complaint.
“He must have his reasons and maybe he felt it in this way, but compared to us it cannot be about the minutes or which day you play,” said Tuchel.
Other than coping with having played far more games than Arsenal heading into Wednesday night’s game, Tuchel’s team will not have a full Stamford Bridge behind them for the London derby.
This will be the first game in which the home support will be made up purely of season ticket holders because of the operating license imposed on Chelsea as a result of the sanctions placed on Roman Abramovich.
That means there will be large sections of empty seats and Tuchel said: “It’s not an advantage. We want to play home matches in front of a full stadium. The game is for the spectators and supporters, so that’s actually bad news. I was not aware of it. Maybe someone told me and I forgot it, this is possible. But let’s turn things around on it.
“Maybe everybody (the supporters) are aware of this and push a little bit more because we lack quantity, but should not lack quality of support. I can only remind everyone of the match against Leicester last season during the Covid situation – it was the first occasion spectators were allowed at the Bridge. There were like 15,000 and all the players said it felt like a full stadium. Hopefully, we can be the spark to bring everybody into that kind of mood to give a little bit more than normal.”