Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel hails 'huge step forward' for Saul Niguez against Tottenham

Jamie Spencer
Saul Niguez had a breakthrough performance in the Carabao Cup semi
Saul Niguez had a breakthrough performance in the Carabao Cup semi / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/GettyImages
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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has praised Saul Niguez after Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup win over Tottenham, calling the on-loan midfielder’s performance a ‘huge step forward’.

Saul joined Chelsea on transfer deadline day in summer but has largely struggled in the four and a bit months since. He was drafted into the lineup for the semi-final first leg after N’Golo Kante tested positive for Covid-19 for only his seventh start of the season in all competitions.

The Spaniard has largely unimpressed in a Chelsea shirt before this week, having been substituted at half-time in both of his only Premier League starts so far. But Wednesday night was different.

“He has digested his experiences here in the beginning, when he maybe did not expect it to be like this,” Tuchel explained at his post-match media briefing.

“He would certainly not be the first player to struggle with the switch to England. But he’s open, fully focused and totally committed to the team. I’m very happy he had a performance like that, which was a huge step forward.”

Chelsea won the game 2-0, getting both goals in the opening 34 minutes to give themselves a commanding lead ahead of the away leg of the tie in a week’s time.

The final at the end of February offers the first chance to win major silverware this season, with the Blues likely to progress and face either Arsenal or Liverpool at Wembley. The first leg of that semi was postponed this week due a Covid-19 outbreak at the latter.

Chelsea are immediately back in cup action at the weekend when National League side Chesterfield are the visitors to Stamford Bridge in the third round of the FA Cup.

The return leg against Spurs then comes before they play their next Premier League game against Manchester City on 15 January.


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