Tuchel on why he relishes big games as he waits for fans to return

For the second game in a row Chelsea play a team hailing from Merseyside who are challenging us for one of the top-four places in the Premier League.

And to emphasise the fact the Blues face another tough test of our Champions League qualification credentials when we host Everton at Stamford Bridge today, the Toffees have won their past three matches and like us, recently defeated their city rivals Liverpool.

These facts are not lost on Thomas Tuchel as he relishes another important encounter that will keep his players on their toes.

‘It is another situation where there is one point only between the teams,’ he says. That was the case before we played Liverpool too.

‘Everton had a very strong start to the season and had a big win also at Anfield and they kept the momentum going [by beating West Brom on Thursday],’ the boss continues.

‘They have a very strong squad, very physical and full of talent, with strong strikers and a dangerous no.10 with James Rodriguez.

‘They have strong experienced players and a super-strong manager on the sidelines with Carlo Ancelotti who knows how to keep the momentum going. It is good that we have a big match next because that drives us, it gets us out of bed early and then it is a very natural process to be at our top level again.’

Tuchel reveals he will not need to say many words to his players before the game as it is clear what will be required to beat Everton – another top-level performance to match the one in midweek.

‘This is what we are up for at Stamford Bridge,’ he adds.

That is a difference from the Liverpool game. This time we are the hosts and there is a symmetry about playing Everton at home as on 8 March 2020, we did just that in what proved to be the last game under normal circumstances before the pandemic hit hard.

‘I had to get used to it, unfortunately also from March onwards when we played in Paris without spectators in the Champions League second leg against Dortmund,’ says Tuchel on football without full stadiums.

‘When we did this we thought it was a matter of weeks but now it is one year. The sport is not the same. We play it for the fans, we play it at the highest level for entertainment for our fans and for all the supporters around the world.

‘It [a crowd] gives you a certain edge, it gives you a certain energy that you cannot have in an empty stadium. We don’t like it but we are grateful that we can still play. At the same time we cannot compare and I cannot wait until our fans are back.

‘I think we can really get the crowd going and I cannot wait until everybody is there. This team has everything needed to entertain our supporters and hopefully it is as soon as possible.’

In the meantime, even with no support urging the Blues on, Tuchel is confident the challenge of playing Everton is all the motivation his team needs.