Thomas Tuchel admits Chelsea’s gruelling season is taking its toll on his players as he attempts to lift the FA Cup finalists for the final few games of the campaign.
Chelsea, third in the Premier League, are one point ahead of London rivals Arsenal after just one win in their past five games.
The stumble for the Stamford Bridge side, who play Liverpool in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday having already lost to the Merseysiders in the League Cup final, follows their aggregate defeat by Real Madrid in last month’s Champions League quarter-finals.
Chelsea have been operating under a cloud of uncertainty after Russian owner Roman Abramovich put the club up for sale in early March – just days before he was sanctioned by the British government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We look a bit drained, tired mentally … this is understandable given the circumstances around the club in which we play in,” Tuchel said on the eve of Wednesday’s match against struggling Leeds.
“This is draining, this is challenging. We had some knockout games in which we play after the national break, with huge emotional input, huge emotions to deal with.
“From losing to Real Madrid, winning at Real Madrid [second leg], losing the Champions League then suddenly being at Wembley and then suddenly in the race in two weeks with four matches against different teams in the Premier League.
“It is quite challenging. After all we have a lot of matches in our legs, in our bones.”
Tuchel said he felt his side could do better than they had done in their past two fixtures – a defeat by Everton followed by a draw with Wolves.
“It was not a lack of motivation [against Wolves], it was the opposite,” the German boss added.
“There was good signs. We trust the team, we trust our players and trust what brought us here.
“Now is the moment for me to stay calm, take it step by step and finish the season on a positive note.”
Tuchel cancelled the players’ day off on Sunday following the 2-2 home draw with Wolves.
“We came in on Sunday, we’d planned a free day but after the disappointment it was not even to punish them,” he said. “It was normally a free day and, of course, maybe some felt it was a punishment but it wasn’t.”