Thomas Tuchel praises Chelsea players for performing amid off-field chaos

The Blues moved nine points above Manchester United in the race for Champions League qualification.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel saw his side brush aside Norwich (Joe Giddens/PA).

By George Sessions, PA

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel praised his players for handling “another level of distraction” to win 3-1 at Norwich on Thursday.

The Blues took to the field at Carrow Road hours after learning owner Roman Abramovich had been sanctioned by the UK Government and had his assets frozen.

It meant Chelsea required a special licence to fulfil this midweek clash, but goals by Trevoh Chalobah, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz still clinched all three points.

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“No, the evening did not feel strange. It helps to have a fixture schedule to arrive on matchday,” Tuchel said.

“It is what we do so often. This is a rhythm everybody is used to and it gives you a structure to feel safe. You have lunch together, you have a break, you have a pre-match or tactical meeting and then you go. It helps.

“Of course, there was a lot of distraction, another level of distraction with the sanctions and we could feel it. The players talked about it, they are aware of it and we accepted it, but the rhythm, excitement and love for the game helped us.

“We demanded it to work hard, to sweat it out and work together. It is the best thing to get the focus back and to enjoy what we are doing.

I think the team shows very good character and we can be proud that they produce performances like this under the circumstances

Thomas Tuchel

“Full credit, I think the team shows very good character and we can be proud that they produce performances like this under the circumstances. It tells us we are right to trust them, that the attitude is right, the culture at the club is right and we keep on going.”

Goals from Chalobah and Mount inside 14 minutes put Chelsea on course for a routine victory, but, when Norwich were awarded a penalty midway through the second period, the momentum shifted.

Teemu Pukki tucked away the spot-kick, but, despite late pressure by Norwich, the Blues added a third when Havertz fired in on the stroke of full-time.

Uncertainty remains at Stamford Bridge, but victory in Norfolk extended their advantage over fifth-place Manchester United to nine points, with a game in hand on the Red Devils.

Chelsea players celebrate at Carrow Road (Joe Giddens/PA).

“The situation will not go away, maybe tomorrow it will change again, but it will not go away,” the Chelsea manager added

“In the day to day with how we arrive to the game, how everything was organised, it was pretty much business as usual, but with a lot of noise around.

“Like I said, the schedule of the day helps you. You go into your routine and I am happy they could show again they love to work hard, to work as a team and they are able to produce another win away.”

Dean Smith (right) talks with Thomas Tuchel before the match (Joe Giddens/PA).

Norwich boss Dean Smith saw his side produce an impressive second-half rally, but they remain bottom of the table, five points from safety.

“Second half we played how we want to play, how our supporters want to play and how I want us to play,” he said.

On Chelsea’s off-the-field issues, Smith added: “Thomas is a football head coach like I am, not a politician.

“What has gone on today is not under Thomas’ control or the players control and they’ll concentrate on their football.”

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