Thomas Tuchel has insisted that it is "stupid" to think Chelsea are still in the Premier League title race, due to the number of Covid cases and injuries his squad have been dealing with.
The Blues slipped to a damaging 1-1 draw against Brighton in the Premier League on Wednesday, in which they lost both Reece James and Andreas Christensen to injuries, meaning they have won just twice in their last five league games.
Their title rivals Manchester City have experienced no such slip-up, tasting victory in each of their last 10 matches. Pep Guardiola's side now have an eight-point lead over the Blues heading into the New Year.
Speaking after the Brighton game, Tuchel dismissed claims that Chelsea are still in the title hunt.
Asked whether their hopes of finishing top of the pile are over, the German told BBC Sport: "How should we be in [the race]?"
He continued: "We have seven Covid cases. We have five or six players out for six or more weeks. How should we compete in a title race?
"Everyone else who has a full squad, everybody in training has the full power to come through this league.
"We would be stupid to think we can do it out of Covid and injuries. Just play and everybody would be stupid to do it without 23 fit players."
Tuchel has been critical of the Premier League's handling of the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, accusing them of failing to prioritise player safety.
He stopped short of adding to these comments post-match, instead saying: "This is the reality, this is where we are and we have to adapt to the demands of the situation which you are in.
"I competed very hard for the win at Brighton at home. I don't know what I can expect from my players in terms of physicality, intensity or minutes.
"Nobody knows any more because we have never done something like this. We play trial and error and see what we can do."
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