Thomas Tuchel is looking forward to taking on Liverpool and seeing how we compare to one of the Premier League’s ‘benchmark’ sides during a spell of matches he feels will be important, but not decisive, for our season.
Many have pointed to the difficult run of games we are currently part-way through, with our Champions League last-16 tie with Atletico Madrid coming amid consecutive Premier League fixtures against direct rivals for a top-four spot, in the form of Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton.
With a 1-0 lead over Atletico and following our 0-0 draw with United, we now travel to Anfield to face the current English champions, but Tuchel feels his Chelsea team have the ability to beat anyone.
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‘We always have a chance to win any game because we have self-confidence, we have good shape, we have everything we need to win against every team, and this will be a tough opponent,’ he said. ‘At the same time you can always lose games in the Premier League, because it’s the toughest competition you can play in.
‘They have dropped points recently, sometimes deserved but also many times not deserved and there was a streak of very unlucky results. It is one of the best teams in Europe, with one of the best managers in Europe. There is no doubt about it, but we are confident enough to go there and prepare ourselves for what we need to do to win, which is nothing else than a top performance.’
While our head coach acknowledges that this game at Liverpool is an important one in the context of the top-four race, with just one point currently separating the two sides, he feels it will be far from decisive given the amount of football still to play this season.
‘We know the situation but we have 12 games left, so no matter what the result tomorrow, it will not be the end of the race for the top four. There is a big importance on this game and the way we play it. I hope we will show up with the same mentality and attitude we have had when we faced all the tough challenges so far, and there have been many.
‘This week brings those challenges up to the highest level you can imagine after Atletico and Manchester United, and now Liverpool and Everton, in the race for the Champions League and the top four. In my opinion, this race will go on until the end of the 12 games we have to play, but tomorrow is a very important fixture. We have the chance to keep them at a distance and this is what we hope to do.’
Our head coach also identified Liverpool, as the current champions, as one of the two sides which currently set the bar for teams hoping to compete for silverware in England, alongside Manchester City, meaning this provides a good opportunity to see how we measure up at this stage in our progress under Tuchel.
‘There is no time in football, although we wish for time, so while we are doing the transition we want to win games. This is clear, but we are ready for that and have the right to be confident. We played against Atletico Madrid and Manchester United, two big opponents. We had two good performances, we are absolutely able to compete on this level, they were super close games.
‘These are strange times and the results are a bit strange, with coronavirus and no fans, but everyone is suffering in the same way and for me those two teams are still the benchmark, Liverpool and Manchester City. But we want to close the gap and the gap is not too big that we cannot close it in weeks or months. This is the target and we are fighting hard for this. But I don’t feel like I am fighting alone for this, I have a strong club behind me and a strong team at my side.’