Thomas Tuchel lauds three ‘outstanding’ Chelsea stars after Tottenham victory

Chelsea v Tottenham: Match in pictures

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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has highlighted three players for praise after Wednesday’s Carabao Cup triumph over Tottenham Hotspur. The Blues impressed as they dampened Antonio Conte’s Stamford Bridge return and took control of the semi-final tie ahead of next week’s second leg.

Kai Havertz’s fifth-minute opener and Ben Davies’ freak own goal later in the first half helped Chelsea place one foot into next month’s Wembley Stadium final.

And the hosts were unfortunate not to widen their margin of victory, dominating Tottenham throughout the game, despite making six changes from the weekend’s draw against Liverpool.

Tuchel paid tribute to Saul Niguez’s performance in midfield and suggested he’s putting his slow start to life in England behind him.

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He said: “Yeah, he is [settling in at Chelsea]. He is more happy; he is more free in training, I see it every day.

“He played better when he came on against Wolves; he already had a good impact. So he’s stepping up and stepping up.

“So this is an important moment for him, but I have a feeling like he digested the experiences at the beginning, where he maybe did not expect it like this – he’s not the first player to struggle from the switch.

“And what he does is good because he’s open, he’s fully focused and totally committed to the team, so I’m very happy he had a performance like today where it was a huge step up.”

The German boss also reserved special praise for young centre-back Malang Sarr and Man of the Match Hakim Ziyech for their contributions on the back of little game time.

“Yeah, Saul, Jorgi [Jorginho] as well, but especially Saul, Malang [Sarr] and Hakim [Ziyech] today were, for me, outstanding because they didn’t play a lot in the last games,” Tuchel explained.

“To come in, play a huge game, semi-final against Tottenham, we know what it means to our fans here at Stamford Bridge to play this game and to play like this was impressive.”

The likes of Sarr, Saul, and Ziyech should have another opportunity to feature this weekend when Chelsea host Chesterfield in the FA Cup.

Or Tuchel could reserve them for the second leg at Tottenham next week, considering they travel to Manchester City in the Premier League just days later.

The Blues’ convincing win over Spurs demonstrated Tuchel’s immense squad depth, making their trophy challenge unsurprising on all fronts.

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