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THOMAS TUCHEL has made the extraordinary claim that the Chelsea No 9 is ‘cursed’ and that none of his players want to touch it.

The Blues kick off their season at Everton tonight without any squad member assigned the traditional centre-forward’s number and with no plans to bring in a new striker to fill the vacancy.

4Raheem Sterling chose to wear No17... despite the nine being availableCredit: Getty 4Thomas Tuchel admitted Chelsea players are convinced the shirt is cursed after Romelu Lukaku's strugglesCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun 4Chelsea's cursed No 9 shirt in numbers

Romelu Lukaku, last year’s £97.5million record buy, has been loaned back to Inter Milan after becoming the latest big name to flop in the No 9 shirt, with the Belgian scoring just eight Premier League goals last term.

During Roman Abramovich’s 19-year reign at Stamford Bridge, the Blues signed SEVEN big-name strikers who wore nine on their backs — and all of them bombed.

Lukaku, Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain, Radamel Falcao, Hernan Crespo and Mateja Kezman all arrived in West London with glowing reputations, yet all fell foul of the curse which the superstitious German admits he believes in.

Boss Tuchel said: “It’s cursed, it’s cursed — people tell me it’s cursed.

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“It’s not the case we are leaving it open for tactical reasons, for players to come in and take it.

“There was not a big demand for No 9, like when players sometimes want to change numbers. Surprisingly, nobody wants to touch it.

“Everybody who has been at the club longer than me tells me, ‘Ah, you know, he had the nine and he did not score... and he had the nine and also did not score’.

“So we now have a moment where nobody wants to touch the number nine. I’m superstitious, I can understand why players maybe don’t touch it and have other preferences.

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“It’s like this but I think Raheem Sterling will help us a lot and in general it’s our responsibility to create more offensive positions to have maybe more players in the box.”

While Manchester City and Liverpool have both recruited traditional centre-forwards in Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez, Chelsea have gone in the opposite direction — farming out Lukaku and not bringing in a like-for-like replacement.

Kai Havertz and £47.5m new recruit Sterling are likely to play as ‘false nines’ in a more fluid system.

Although 20-year-old Albanian forward Armando Broja has returned from a loan at Southampton and may force his way into the starting line-up. Tuchel said: “Raheem is one of our offensive players. If we play in the same structure, it will be very fluid.

“(At centre-forward) it can be him, Kai, Timo Werner, also Broja who is now in the squad.

“Different profiles, different types of playing. Liverpool and City showed it is possible to be very successful with a fluid type of offensive player in the nine position.”

“It’s cursed, it’s cursed — people tell me it’s cursed."

Thomas Tuchel on Chelsea's No 9 shirt

Tuchel is concentrating on bolstering his defence, with £55m Marc Cucurella joining from Brighton and Leicester’s £85m-rated Wesley Fofana the subject of serious Chelsea interest.

But the manager admits his preferred wing-back system can prove cautious.

He said: “I’m generally confident we are able to win games. We managed to score a lot of goals in this system we play, the 3-4-3.

“The core and strength of the formation is a bit deep with three defenders and two central midfielders.

“So, from this, it’s maybe the responsibility for the three attackers to be a bit higher than in other systems.

“So we are relying heavily on our wing-backs and still we think it’s a good structure for the characteristics of our players.

4Lukaku managed just eight goals in the Premier League last season despite his £97.5m pricetag

“We will adapt and we’ve got new quality with Raheem, which helps.”

Tuchel says he has suffered a “turbulent” pre-season, with a more hands-on approach in transfer dealings as new owner Todd Boehly stands in as sporting director.

And the German claims his squad is still in “transition” and that while Boehly is “ambitious”, he is also “patient”.

Tuchel says his side have benefitted from the “wake-up call” of a 4-0 pre-season mauling by Arsenal in the United States.

And as he prepares for this evening’s trip to face Everton and Frank Lampard — the Chelsea legend he replaced as boss — Tuchel admits he does not want to pile pressure on his players by talking them up as title contenders.

He said: “My feeling is first of all, a race for top four, and second of all, the title race.

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“It’s super-challenging this league and if you are in the title race in March or April, then you go for the title. But you make sure you are in the top four — this is the priority.

“We are challenging for that and there is no shame in it.”

 CHELSEA (likely): Mendy, Azpilicueta, Thiago, Koulibaly, James, Kante, Jorginho, Cucurella, Mount, Sterling, Havertz.

News Source: the-sun.com

Tags: chelsea transfer news football premier league people tell me it’s tell me it’s it’s cursed it’s cursed cursed after romelu lukaku chelsea players raheem sterling you the title race centre forward premier league thomas tuchel his players to touch it tuchel says the chelsea

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Next News:

Jorginho gives Chelsea 1-0 opening win over Everton in EPL

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Jorginho’s late first-half penalty was enough to give Chelsea a 1-0 victory over Everton in the English Premier League on Saturday for the London club’s first win at Goodison Park in five visits.

It was far from a convincing performance from Thomas Tuchel’s team, though, against an Everton side that was playing without a recognized striker and lost two players to injuries.

Ben Godfrey was carried off on a stretcher early in the first half and taken to hospital with a serious-looking lower leg injury, while center back Yerry Mina also exited in the second half.

Godfrey’s injury meant there was eight minutes of stoppage time in the first half, and Jorginho converted a penalty seconds before the interval after Abdoulaye Doucoure pulled down Ben Chilwell.

Everton created more pressure in the second half but never looked close to getting an equalizer and coach Frank Lampard — the former Chelsea midfielder and manager — will have to find a solution to the team’s attacking problems. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is sidelined for about six weeks after missing much of last season with injury, while no replacement has come in for departed Brazil forward Richarlison.

Chelsea is also looking for someone to fill the vacancy left by Romelu Lukaku’s return to Inter Milan, with newcomer Raheem Sterling playing as the central attacker against Everton. Sterling had the ball in the net in the first half from a rebound but was flagged offside.

There was another stoppage of play near the end of a second half because of a medical emergency in the crowd, leading to 10 minutes of injury time being played.

___

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