EPL

Chelsea can match Man City standard, says Tuchel

By Sports Desk March 04, 2021

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel believes the Blues can challenge for the Premier League title next season as they look to close the gap on Manchester City.

City are 14 points clear atop the table and on track to secure silverware, while fifth-placed Chelsea fight to qualify for the Champions League this term.

Tuchel's Chelsea are 21 points adrift of Pep Guardiola's City, having finished 33 points behind Premier League champions Liverpool in 2019-20.

Chelsea have struggled to compete for the title since reigning supreme in 2016-17 – the London outfit were 26 points behind City in 2019 and 30 in 2018.

But former Paris Saint-Germain boss Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard in January, is confident Chelsea can match the standard set by City and Liverpool next term.

"If you read these numbers out loud then it seems not," Tuchel said ahead of Thursday's showdown with Liverpool. "But we should not limit our thoughts. We should try and not prepare for excuses.

"The amount of points shows how big the gap is. But it has to be the ambition to close it as fast as possible.

"It's a thin line between the argument and giving already an excuse to myself and the players. I don't want to do that. It's not my nature and you can only push yourself to the limit if you don't accept it from the beginning.

"Will we close the gap to City this season? No. But next season on we start with zero points. City were in trouble this season and nobody took advantage. It's proven in sports that you can do an extraordinary step, improve staff and grow if you catch the momentum.

"Now we are challenging for top four, which was a big task when we stepped in, and from next year we will challenge for all titles."

Chelsea have lost their last two away league games against Liverpool, last losing more consecutively at Anfield between September 1992 and October 1997 (six).

Tuchel is unbeaten in his first nine matches as Chelsea boss in all competitions (W6 D3), with only Jose Mourinho (10 games) and Luiz Felipe Scolari (12 games) having longer unbeaten starts as Blues managers.

German tactician Tuchel added: "I have to earn it that I can have the same time as [Liverpool manager] Jurgen Klopp and Pep.

"This was no gift to them. I think everybody in the club saw what they are doing and this is what I have to prove. I have to live every day to make my impact here and to show that I deserve the same amount of time to build teams. But I don't have the feeling that it's an obstacle that holds me back from building."

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    "He is one of the best people you can ever meet, I think everybody will tell you that. He's fantastic company, a really nice guy, and we have a really good relationship.

    "It had a break when he was at Everton because we both respect this part of the business too much, or we would have gone out to dinner a couple of times. We didn’t do that at all!

    "The respect from my side couldn't be bigger. I'm sure he won everywhere, everything, and will never stop. I really respect that, but it doesn't mean anything for this game obviously."

    Ancelotti was Milan coach when Liverpool lodged a remarkable comeback in the Champions League final in 2005, coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and then go on to win on penalties.

    This season, it has been Madrid who have had a penchant for dramatic turnarounds on the road to Paris.

    Madrid roared back to defeat Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 thanks to a hat-trick from Karim Benzema, who subsequently scored a decisive extra-time goal versus Chelsea in the quarter-finals before slotting in a match-winning penalty after Rodrygo inspired a comeback against Manchester City.

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    "It was a harsh night for us, tough to take," Klopp said. "We came there on three wheels a bit, players came back just in time for the final, we couldn't replace Mo one for one.

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