Thomas Tuchel has defended his refusal to give Tammy Abraham more opportunities, arguing that he cannot base selections on the striker’s previous goalscoring exploits for Chelsea.
Although Abraham is Chelsea’s top scorer with 12 goals in 30 appearances this season, he has endured a difficult time since Tuchel’s appointment in January. The 23-year-old, whose England place is on the line before the European Championship, has often struggled to make the bench since recovering from an ankle injury and could consider his future this summer.
Although Chelsea have been blunt up front recently, Tuchel insisted before Saturday evening’s trip to Crystal Palace that he trusts in his selection methods. Questioning the relevance of old statistics, the manager made his case by pointing out that Abraham has scored only once since Frank Lampard’s departure.
“I don’t think he’s the top scorer since I arrived,” Tuchel said. “I can only judge what I see. I saw a bright young man in front of me. I saw a guy who is self-confident, who has a lot of talent. But it cannot be that in a period of such good results that suddenly the guys who don’t play are the winners.
“This is not logical to me. He was for some weeks not available, so is it now the moment to do crazy stuff and try things? If you just look at the data, you will say: ‘OK, he’s the top scorer.’ If you look at the data since we are here, it will maybe tell you a different story.”
Tuchel is not thinking about whether Abraham, who hit 18 goals last season, makes the England squad. “I can’t make my decisions based on the personal goals of my players,” he said. “Kepa [Arrizabalaga] also has the personal goal to go with Spain. It’s good they have these goals but it never influences my decisions. I’m the coach for Chelsea and I have to do what is good for us.
“Tammy had a bit of a rough time. He was twice substituted for tactical reasons at half-time. He could not have the impact he demands from himself and we wish from him.”