Chelsea to have at least 10,000 empty seats at Stamford Bridge against Arsenal as financial sanctions start to hit

THOMAS TUCHEL told Chelsea fans to pump up the ­volume on Wednesday night and make up for the missing thousands against Arsenal.

Stamford Bridge will have 10,000 fewer Blues fans than normal as sanctions against Russian owner Roman Abramovich prevent Chelsea from selling home tickets.

Thomas Tuchel hopes Chelsea supporters make Stamford Bridge as loud as ever despite being well under capacityCredit: Rex

Stamford Bridge will be far less packed than usual for a derby with Arsenal

Stamford Bridge will be far less packed than usual for a derby with ArsenalCredit: Getty

Boss Tuchel admitted: “I was not aware of it. Maybe someone told me and I forgot it. But let’s turn things around.

“Maybe everybody can push a little bit more because we  lack quantity but should not lack quality of support.

“Hopefully, we can be the spark to bring everybody into the kind of mood to give a little bit more than normal.”

Plus Tuchel wants Romelu Lukaku to keep his mind on the job to save his Chelsea career.

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The misfiring striker, 28, comes full circle tonight in the home clash against Arsenal.

Club-record signing Lukaku kicked off his second stint at the Blues last August with a goal in a 2-0 win that triggered a blistering run.

But the return game sees the £97.5million Belgian fighting for his future — after a string of important misses and no Premier League goals this year.

Boss Tuchel said: “For us it is clear, we can play with Romelu, we can be very strong with Romelu, we proved it.

“We will prove it again if he is involved and keeps involved mentally.
 “If he stays involved  in the situation to get through this, he can grow from it and come back stronger.

“It is  disappointing for him and not what we expected — but it is still not finished and we will not give in.

“We never give in with any players and we never give up.

“We will push him, we will push as far as we can. And as long as the player stays involved in the mentality that is needed to bring a team  forward, he can still be a crucial player.”

Lukaku  missed chances against Real Madrid in the Champions League and then against Crystal Palace in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final win.

His first season back in England has also been dogged by controversy from a  TV interview in which he claimed to be unhappy at Chelsea.

Tuchel said: “He had a very, very promising start.

“There was turbulence from then on throughout this long period of time.

I think he is still at the right place but there are  things to improve.

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“Of course we will try everything and he tries everything — and will have our support to reach this kind of level again. It’s in him. It’s in us.

“I think he is still at the right place but there are  things to improve.”

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is unhappy that his team must play three games inside a week with this rearranged game.

Chelsea have played 54 games this season in all competitions, compared to Arsenal’s 38.

Tuchel said: “He must have  reasons if he felt this way — but he also cannot compare to us in minutes.

“We can use it as an excuse, they can use it. You use the situation how you want.

“You can use it to feel tired and say we feel the challenge mentally and physically.

“And from there it is a given to be used as an excuse if things go wrong. Or just accept it — this is what we try to do.

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“I was not happy when Tottenham went out of the Europa Conference League because I know what Antonio Conte can do with teams when they are focused and he can train them physically.

“The same for Arsenal when they went out of the FA Cup — this would be a huge boost for them because they have a very young and talented team, to focus on one thing can be an advantage.”

Blues midfielder Mateo Kovacic is out with an ankle injury picked up in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, which earned Chelsea a third FA Cup final in a row.


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