Tuchel says he considered moving Saul to wing-back

Thomas Tuchel insisted he took Saul off at half-time against Watford partly because he had picked up a yellow card.

Saul was given a place in the Chelsea starting line-up for the first time since September, when he was substituted at half-time after struggling badly on his debut.

It was the same outcome at Vicarage Road, where the midfielder was replaced at the interval after similarly struggling to adapt to the pace of the game.

Chelsea won 2-1, with Hakim Ziyech’s second-half goal securing three points and keeping them top of the Premier League table.

Blues boss Tuchel admitted they were “very sloppy” in the first half and could consider themselves “lucky” to have won the game.

It was certainly a tough night for Saul, who has failed to impress since his summer move from Atletico Madrid.

But Tuchel said he had considered instead taking off Marcos Alonso, who was on a yellow card too.

That would have involved keeping Saul on the pitch as a left wing-back – a position he has played in before and which Tuchel believes he could feature in for Chelsea in the absence of the injured Ben Chilwell.

Asked where Saul goes from here after another poor performance, Tuchel said: “I don’t know where he goes from this performance, but he was on a yellow card so we had two options; to take Marcos off, who also had a yellow card, and try Saul as a wing-back.

“I had this in my mind before the game maybe if something happened to Marcos.

“But I thought it was maybe not the right match to try things and try new positions, so it was him (to come off).”