Thomas Tuchel believes the return of Chelsea supporters to Stamford Bridge tomorrow evening could make the difference in a tight battle to secure Champions League qualification.
There are three points separating the Blues, Leicester City and Liverpool at the start of this final week of the season, with just two places up for grabs in the Premier League top four.
The Foxes travel to west London on Tuesday in a repeat of the FA Cup final played three days previously, while Liverpool go to Burnley 24 hours later.
After playing in front of Blues fans for the first time at Wembley on Saturday, Tuchel is looking forward to welcoming a home crowd back to the Bridge for the first time in six months and feels their backing could make the difference in a huge encounter.
‘We had some matches where we struggled a bit with momentum and I had the feeling that their support could help,’ said the boss when asked at his pre-match press conference about supporters returning.
‘This could be crucial to our team so having the fans back is fantastic. I hope they come in the right moment to help us secure this last win at Stamford Bridge this season.
‘Normally it’s an advantage and to have 8,000 fans feels amazing that it’s possible. It’s absolutely a step in the right direction and we hope that it’s the extra percentage of support that helps us to win tomorrow.’
Liverpool’s stoppage-time winner at West Brom on Sunday was dramatic enough by virtue of being headed in by goalkeeper Alisson but the consequences for the top-four race were profound, placing the Reds in a good position to take advantage of us meeting Leicester tomorrow.
Tuchel admitted he had one eye on proceedings at the Hawthorns yesterday and conceded victory for Jurgen Klopp’s men would make it a tense finale to the campaign.
However, having recovered so much ground since his arrival in late January, the Bavarian was also grateful to have fate in our own hands ahead of these final two fixtures against Leicester and Aston Villa.
‘I came home, switched on the TV and saw it was 1-1 in the middle of the second half,’ he continued. ‘I thought “oh that’s not a bad result” but I was a bit superstitious so didn’t follow it.
‘When I checked later I had to realise that superstitions don’t always work, or maybe never! It was a fantastic header in the last minute and does not make things boring. It’s pretty interesting and pretty tight but still it’s in our hands.
‘Somebody asked me after the final if it was a major setback for us for Tuesday but the setback was the Arsenal game. It’s our fault that it’s so close again and we left the door open.
'It was a huge performance that we did so far but now we need to refocus and forget all the other results because we are in the lucky situation where we can rely on ourselves.’