After a week of knockout success in both European and domestic competition, the attention returns to the Premier League with two big matches for the Blues in the next five days...
Saturday brings a trip across the capital to take on West Ham, who currently sit above us in fourth, but first there is the visit to Stamford Bridge of Brighton, the side we beat 3-1 in the reverse fixture on the opening weekend of the season back in August.
Thomas Tuchel has been encouraged by results going in our favour in recent days, namely the Hammers losing to Newcastle, and Everton drawing with Tottenham, but the Chelsea head coach is under no illusions that the tasks ahead are pivotal in achieving our aims.
‘It’s better if our direct competitors don’t win but we have to do what we can do and what we can influence,’ he noted.
‘We have an absolutely crucial week coming up with Brighton and West Ham ahead of us so it’s in our hands now to make a huge step.
‘We come from a very successful, very emotional and very demanding week with games in Seville against Porto and at Wembley against City, so now is the moment to put full focus back on the Premier League and to make hopefully a huge step in this race.
‘We did not close this gap to give priority to any finals or semi-finals. We are clearly 100 per cent focused on the next week and there are no more important games than Brighton and West Ham.’
Tuchel’s triumph over Pep Guardiola on Saturday helped us book a place in the FA Cup final for the fourth time in five seasons and it also continued an impressive record against elite coaching contemporaries for the Bavarian.
In almost three months in charge at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel has now overseen victories over Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone without even conceding a single goal.
It is an admirable addition to any managerial CV and one that bodes well for the decisive run-in, although Tuchel refused to take the credit for those results, insisting they were team wins and ‘not tennis or chess.’
‘I never see it like me battling against coaches,’ he explained. ‘I am responsible for a huge club in the toughest league in Europe and I am here to have these kind of competitions.
‘Once you have on the other sideline the most influential, successful and charismatic coaches out there in Europe, you know that the challenge is on and that’s why I’m here. That’s what excites me a lot and brings me out of bed early.
‘I know very well that if you want to have results like we had then you need also a bit of luck and the momentum. I demand from myself that we do not get carried away by this and think that I beat someone.
‘I did not play tennis or chess against them. In the end, I lead my team and the credit goes to the players. When you arrive with a team that is able to perform and create results against other strong clubs then you’re a happy coach and this is what it is.’