sport news Chelsea show the strain as their striking struggles start to sting

sport news Chelsea show the strain as their striking struggles start to sting
sport news Chelsea show the strain as their striking struggles start to sting

Thomas Tuchel did not show his face. There was just a black space where it should have appeared on the press conference Zoom screen and the voice of a man who knows, though he isn't admitting it, that Liverpool and Manchester City look immeasurably better teams than his own.

No, he didn't know when N'Golo Kante, Chelsea's fulcrum who they miss so much, would be back. No, he wouldn't entertain a question about whether Kante might appear again this year. 'It's not interesting what I think,' said Tuchel. 'He has a long way to go.'

There was a lot of negativity emanating from that black hole, with further impediments to Chelsea's progress including the hip pain Jorginho is feeling in every game, Mateo Kovacic's continued absence and — Tuchel admitted — Romelu Lukaku not being ready for the 45 minutes of football he was put through on Saturday.

Thomas Tuchel was a frustrated man after watching his Chelsea side lose at West Ham

 Thomas Tuchel was a frustrated man after watching his Chelsea side lose at West Ham

Romelu Lukaku was not ready for the 45 minutes of football he was put through on Saturday

Romelu Lukaku was not ready for the 45 minutes of football he was put through on Saturday

The £97million forward was brought on, Tuchel explained, because Chelsea lacked height to defend set-pieces after Kai Havertz's injury. 'It's my fault because I don't think he is ready,' Tuchel said. 'This is on me and this is my responsibility.'

The big picture is about where Chelsea's goals are going to start coming from, considering none of their strikers are providing them and a title-winning side needs prolific forwards.

Havertz was a marginal presence. Timo Werner did not start. The pair of them and Lukaku have a collective Premier League goal tally of six. Jurgen Klopp's most prolific three — Mo Salah, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane — have 28.

There was a lot of possession, precision and prettiness but few rapid passing combinations to leave David Moyes's West Ham gasping for air. Matches against Manchester United have been a barometer for the teams with title pretensions. Liverpool and City swept them away. Chelsea lightly dusted them.

Mason Mount was their silver lining. There was a moment in the second half when the 22-year-old seemed destined to collide with Tuchel near the touchline but he danced around him, briefly using him for balance as he

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