Thomas Tuchel said Chelsea’s players are “tired mentally and physically” after their 1-1 draw at Brighton left them with just one win in seven Premier League games and 12 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
The Blues led against the run of play at the Amex Stadium through Hakim Ziyech’s low drive, but failed to hold on, conceding a second-half header to Adam Webster from a corner.
They have now taken just three league points from a possible 12 in a 21-day period that has seen them play seven matches in all competitions.
While they continue to fight on other fronts – including the Carabao Cup, in which they qualified for the final last week – their attempts to keep pace with an imperious City look forlorn.
They must also now be mindful of the sides below them, with Arsenal nine points behind and Tottenham 11 having played three and five fewer games respectively.
“We look tired because we are tired and we play against a strong, well-prepared Brighton team,” Tuchel told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“If you look at our schedule, look at where we come from, we struggle with it. When you’re tired – mentally and physically – you have a lack of position and a lack of focus. You can see it in our game but we know where it comes from.
“I can even feel it myself. At some point you sit on the bus and think ‘where are we going?’ You have to refocus and think where are we going, when are we there, which time do we play and when is the next meeting?
“It’s like this since November. We are the team that plays and plays and plays so you feel it, of course. That’s why we need to de-connect, recharge the batteries and come back with hunger and joy to fight these matches. It’s necessary.”
Tuchel has given his squad the next two days off to try to recover before they begin preparations for their home league game with Tottenham on Sunday – their 21st game since the start of November.
The third international break of the season follows this weekend’s round of fixtures.
“We give two days off because we have four days between matches,” continued the German. “Then we’ll use the international break to recharge our batteries. We will give the players one week off, absolutely.”