Thomas Tuchel insists his ‘Borussia Chelsea’ can compete with Manchester City

Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea head coach, insists that he will do everything in his power to ensure that this season’s Premier League does not become a Bundesliga-style one-horse race. But the German admitted ahead of Sunday’s match against third-placed Liverpool at Stamford Bridge that injuries and illness have put a strain on his squad that will make it difficult.

The danger of the Bundesliga comparison proving accurate is obvious. Chelsea, in second place, trailed Manchester City by eight points after City’s midweek victory at Brentford and the Blues’ 1-1 draw with Brighton a few miles to the east. Bayern Munich, Bundesliga champions for the past nine seasons, led Borussia Dortmund by only one point more. Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, are both former Borussia Dortmund managers and know the feeling of toiling in the slipstream of Bayern, once managed by present City coach Pep Guardiola.

“As long as I’m here at my ‘Borussia Chelsea’, I will do nothing other than try to make other teams under-perform and we will even try to make Manchester City under-perform and we will not stop,” Tuchel said.

“And I am pretty sure Jurgen will do the same to get the best out of Liverpool and we will not stop chasing and believing. That is maybe the difference now with the situation in the Bundesliga. We have the belief.”

Belief alone, however, has not prevented Chelsea from dropping points at home to Burnley, Everton and Brighton, three results that have undermined what looked at one point like a determined challenge to City’s aspirations of a fourth title win in five seasons.

“Draws at home at the moment are killing us, three games, three late goals,” Tuchel said. “Six points would change the whole situation, but I think we concede because of injuries, Covid, overloaded players, key players out.”

While Chelsea are looking exhausted and threadbare in some areas, with Reece James and Andreas Christensen the latest arrivals in the treatment room, City have no such problems. Apart from covering absences more easily, Tuchel said.

“Big squads create an energy that lifts you and make you produce a little bit more, on the pitch and in training because you are never that safe,” Tuchel said. “If you don’t have that, you have the same trust in your players, but not the same energy. It’s hard to accept because there’s no exercise in training for it. It is the key advantage. They are relentless and they take these advantages. It is a winning machine.

“So we have to remember where we came from. You have to be ambitious but not over-ambitious so that you get frustrated because you didn’t catch Man City in the very first half-year. This can happen but we have to dig in and go through that. It’s part of the process. Everyone wants to make it happen fast and have a close title race. A few weeks ago we did but circumstances that we cannot influence gave them a certain lead. We will never stop pushing but at the moment we struggle.

“I am absolutely convinced that without injuries, having key players not out for weeks and having Covid at the same time, we could still be in the back of them. Everything needs to fall in place for us to produce that kind of consistent level that City and, normally, Liverpool can produce. That’s why there’s no need to get negative, to lose faith. The opposite. We will stay hungry. Jurgen did it with Dortmund and we came close. So both of us know how to catch favourites.”


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