Saul Niguez's Chelsea nightmare continues as Thomas Tuchel delivers damning verdict

Saul Niguez has made just seven appearances for Chelsea since his deadline day move from Atletico Madrid, failing to complete either of his Premier League starts

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In pictures: Watford v Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel told reporters he “doesn’t know” what’s next for Saul Niguez after another disappointing performance against Watford on Wednesday evening.

The Spanish midfielder, on a yellow card, was hauled off after just 45 minutes as the Blues rallied to win 2-1 at Vicarage Road.

Saul has made just two Premier League starts since completing a season-long loan deal to Chelsea from Atletico Madrid, both ending in half-time substitutions.

Tuchel has several central midfielders at his disposal, including Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

When asked about his decision to remove Saul against Watford, the Chelsea manager insisted it was for tactical reasons.

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Saul Niguez was hauled off after just 45 minutes against Watford


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“I don’t know where he goes from this performance but he was on a yellow card so we had two options,” said Tuchel.

“We could have taken Marcos [Alonso] off who also had a yellow card and try Saul as a wing-back. I had this in my mind before the game, if something happened to Marcos.

“But I thought maybe it was not the right match to try things with new positions so it was [subbing] him to change the shape a little bit and have Thiago on the pitch with his organising.

“Having Trevoh [Chalobah] on the number six who is more physical – unfortunately Trevoh injured himself and we ended up with Ruben on the single six. But it was a tactical decision.”

Tuchel’s decision was justified, as Hakim Ziyech’s late goal ensured they remained top of the Premier League after Wednesday’s fixtures.

Mount opened the scoring for the Blues after 30 minutes, with Emmanuel Dennis scoring Watford’s equaliser just before half-time.

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Tuchel wasn’t impressed with his team’s performance, telling reporters it was “very sloppy” and “very unusual.”

The German added: “I didn’t prepare them for what was coming because it was the first time we completely underperformed as a team.

“We didn’t win first balls, second balls, we did not cope well with the pressure. It is one thing to win or lose challenges but we did not even find them.

“We had the chance to speak about it in the break and then the chance again at half time and tried to give easy messages because it was obvious that we struggled in the build up and skilful solutions.

“We needed to do the basics better, hang in there and change the mentality and to accept it. We tried, I don’t think I was too critical with players but we are also critical of ourselves when we analyse the situation.

“I think we can admit today that we were lucky to win this game. It was a very unusual performance for us, I will not focus long on this match because we play on Saturday again.

“There are reasons that it wasn’t easy for us, Watford played with lots of enthusiasm and we struggled in the basics. I don’t know what but it was like this. We are in this together and we got a lucky win today.”

Chelsea’s next game is against local rivals West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

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