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Thomas Tuchel rates Saul Niguez’s performance as Chelsea progress in Carabao Cup


Saul Niguez has struggled to make an impact since joining Chelsea (Getty)

Thomas Tuchel believes Saul Niguez has taken a ‘huge step’ following his display in Chelsea’s shootout victory over Southampton in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening.

The 26-year-old has struggled to make an impact after arriving on loan from Atletico Madrid in the summer transfer window.

Saul has only feature once in the Premier League and was hauled off at half-time following a woeful debut display against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.

The Spain international was handed third start for Chelsea in their Carabao Cup tie against Southampton on Tuesday and Tuchel’s side were taken to penalties with Reece James scoring the winning spot kick.

And Tuchel says he is encouraged by Saul’s latest performance.

‘It was a good match, it was a huge step in the right direction for him,’ Tuchel told Chelsea TV after the match.

Thomas Tuchel says Saul Niguez took a ‘huge step’ as Chelsea saw off Southampton in the Carabao Cup (Getty)

‘I am happy. We thought maybe he would be struggling with the intensity and thought about [substituting him after] 70 minutes, 75 [minutes], but he got better and better, had chances and shots.

‘We thought let’s keep him [on the pitch] and give him the minutes. It was a good step for him.’

Tuchel also praised Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was at fault for Southampton’s goal but made some excellent saves in the second half and was the hero once again in the shootout as he saved Theo Walcott’s effort.

‘He produces. He is full of confidence,’ said Tuchel.

‘He has this experience now with us, and he has done it again and again.

‘Just because you win a penalty shoot-out, does not mean you will do it again. Full credit to him.

‘It’s a special thing in football and we were again concentrated and calm. Kepa was a big part of that.’

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