Chelsea Thomas Tuchel calls out Romelu Lukaku for his sloppy attacking play in defeat at Man City

Thomas Tuchel laid into Chelsea’s record signing Romelu Lukaku after falling 13 points behind Manchester City on a key afternoon in the title race at The Etihad.

Tuchel cut a frustrated and angry figure on the touchline for most of their 1-0 lunchtime defeat at City with Lukaku bearing the brunt after missing Chelsea’s big chance at the start of the second half with their only shot on target.

It is the latest setback for the £98million striker who was dropped by Tuchel against Liverpool earlier this month in the aftermath of an interview in which Lukaku claimed he was ‘not happy’ at the manager’s tactics.

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Romelu Lukaku received big criticism from his coach after Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Man City

Thomas Tuchel did not mince his words when describing Lukaku’s performance at the Etihad

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Though Chelsea defended well and were only beaten by Kevin De Bruyne’s second-half strike, they were a blunt instrument up front in a reversal of last summer’s Champions League final that Chelsea won.

Tuchel’s fury was aimed at all his attacking players but Lukaku, who returned for his second spell at Stamford Bridge last summer after a high-profile move from Inter Milan, was singled out for criticism.

‘He had many ball losses without pressure and in very promising circumstances,’ said Tuchel who frequently shook his head and shouted in outrage and shook his head when his team surrendered possession.

‘Of course we want to serve him but he is part of the team and sometimes he needs to do service as well. He had a huge chance so he’s included in this.

‘He is part of the team and the performances up front, especially in the first half, we can do much better and we need to be.

‘We had eight or nine attacking transitions in the first half and zero touches in the box. That is a big problem. There was a lack of timing and composure.

Lukaku missed a couple of big chances to put Chelsea in front at The Etihad stadium

Tuchel also laid into the Belgian striker for repeatedly giving the ball away ‘without pressure’

‘We could have had more chances if we played with better precision.’

Lukaku’s big moment arrived with the game still goalless after 47 minutes. Mateo Kovacic set him clear of the City defence but the Belgian’s first-time finish was parried away by Ederson.

The 28-year-old has scored only four times in his last 18 appearances for Chelsea and subsequently apologised for comments made to an Italian television station in which he said he’d like to play for Inter again – creating what Tuchel described as ‘unnecessary noise’.

De Bruyne hit yesterday’s winner after 70 minutes with an outstanding strike from the edge of the box to put City 13 points clear at the top of the table.

Tuchel refused to surrender the title though and praised his team’s defending at The Etihad.

‘We were active and aggressive, we just lost the game in one individual situation,’ he said.

‘I have no time to lose energy by looking at the table. We play on Tuesday (v Brighton) and we have to be ready.

Lukaku was already in Tuchel’s bad books for the unauthorised interview he gave last month

‘We want to serve him but he is part of the team and he needs to do service as well,’ Tuchel said

‘If City keep winning they will be champions but we will never give up.’

‘We have won games against City with the same performance that we gave today but you can also lose them because of the individual quality of Kevin De Bruyne.

‘We did not show the same quality to score the first goal and bring doubts into their game.’

Though Tuchel has huge credit at Chelsea for winning the Champions League, his intensity has seen him struggle to deal with superstars like Neymar at PSG and it will be fascinating to see how Lukaku reacts to some stinging criticism.

City boss Pep Guardiola added about his team’s 12th league win in a row: ‘I was happy to win against Arsenal but we didn’t deserve it. It feels better to win today because we deserved it.’

Man City boss Pep Guardiola said the win over Chelsea felt better than the victory at Arsenal

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