Thomas Tuchel has lavished praise on Romelu Lukaku despite the striker drawing another blank in Chelsea’s win over Tottenham.
Lukaku has had a mixed time since returning for a second spell at Stamford Bridge, at times looking unplayable but on occasions fluffing his lines in front of goal.
He failed to find the target for the fourth game in a row, with the lowlight being when he completely missed his kick from six yards out with the goal gaping.
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But to his credit, he kept offering himself for team-mates and proved a willing runner and outlet for the Blues.
Lukaku’s work-rate was not lost on his manager, who said: “'It was a very good team performance from him.
“He was absolutely reliable and put in a huge effort. It’s a bit the story of our team.
“I have the feeling that we work really hard off the ball and sometimes are maybe not in full confidence or a calm state of mind when it comes to the opponents’ box.
“But the effort is something we define as a benchmark and a standard for us, so he gave everything in terms of work-rate.”
Chelsea go into their winter break 10 points behind leaders Manchester City, having played a game more.
The Blues are just about in the title race, and Tuchel felt heading into the break on the back of a win was important.
“Now we go into a break and it was important to go into this break with a victory,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it because if you don’t have the results and the performances you want, there’s no substitution for a win and that feeling.
“You cannot produce it artificially so we needed this but we needed also to do things better and keep on believing. The guys are very tired now because it was a long run but it was important for us.”
Tuchel opted for a four-man defence against Spurs and is open to using it again.
“It’s one way forward,” he said. “We tried a 4-1-4-1 formation today because we tried a 4-4-2 against them in the first match which gave us an advantage and then they reacted to it in the second match so we thought maybe it could be an approach to give the players a new solution.
“It gives us more options than only to play a 3-4-3 but we don’t decide now.”
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