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Tuchel rates impact of Chelsea debutants; picks out key cameo that wasn’t a surprise

Thomas Tuchel said the impressive performance of one Chelsea player did not “surprise” him after they reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals following a 2-0 win over Brentford.

Chelsea left it late to see off Brentford, with both goals coming in the last 10 minutes. A Pontus Jansson own goal gave Chelsea the lead before Jorginho confirmed the win with a penalty.

Tuchel could not rely on a full-strength squad due to a number of Covid-19 cases at Chelsea. He gave run-outs to some fringe and younger players, but still could call on some senior stars. The blend he chose got the job done eventually.

After winning the Champions League last season, they have now made progress in another cup competition. Only one hurdle separates them from the final and a chance for further silverware.

London rivals Tottenham will be the opponents in the two-legged semi-finals. They are games Tuchel will be looking forward to after a “brilliant” one in the quarter-finals.

He told a post-match press conference: “Tottenham is nice for our fans. A London derby, we are looking forward to it and we want to be there.

“I am absolutely happy about this result, a brilliant result and a brilliant performance given the situation.”

Tuchel drafted in the likes of Xavier Simons, Harvey Vale and Jude Soonsup-Bell to make up their numbers. None of the trio lasted 90 minutes, but Tuchel was pleased with their performances.

He said: “They did well. They hadn’t trained for a week and then we invited them to training, they had two sessions with us. They listened carefully and did their job.

“Full credit to the seven guys with who they played. They took care and made sure they did the right stuff.”

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Tuchel ‘super happy’ with Kepa

One of the senior players who particularly impressed Tuchel was Kepa Arrizabalaga. Chances are few and far between for the world’s costliest goalkeeper due to the form of number one Edouard Mendy. He has subsequently been linked with a transfer away in recent weeks.

But Kepa kept a clean sheet in his latest cameo in a reminder of what he can offer. Tuchel said he was not surprised by the Spaniard’s display and praised his overall attitude.

The German coach said: “I am super happy and impressed. It is not a surprise anymore. He is in that state of mind where he just delivers.

“He does what he is supposed to and this is what he shows every day in training. I am absolutely sure this is the reason why he has these performances.”

Tuchel will be looking forward to welcoming back more of his senior options for Chelsea’s upcoming busy Christmas schedule.

Asked who could be back for their Boxing Day trip to Aston Villa, he replied: “If I understand correctly it will be a negative test first of all. I believe we had a negative test for Romelu [Lukaku] and Callum [Hudson-Odoi].”

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