Our head coach on being up for the fight against the league leaders and whether games elsewhere should be postponed…
Chelsea head to Manchester City for tomorrow’s game 10 points behind Pep Guardiola’s side in the Premier League table.
It is a deficit sufficient for Thomas Tuchel to admit our title challenge maybe over if we lose the game but he insists his side are up for the fight, even if he wishes for a fuller squad to take on the league leaders.
‘Man City opened the gap not over the last months, they opened the gap over the last years and I wasn't ever shy to say this,’ Tuchel points out as he assesses the challenge ahead.
‘We try to close it. We were self-confident enough to say we will try to close it from the first day of the season. This is what we did and we did it very good.
‘I want to be very clear about it. I will be absolutely happy with the players who travel with us and will be on the pitch tomorrow, and we will inject the most confidence that we can have. We will come up with a plan and we will push and help and support in the best way, but the team is a different team when everybody is available. It's as simple as that.
‘If you have your 19 or 20 players from 23 always constantly available, this creates the energy, the atmosphere and the extra edge that you need if you want to be at the level where Man City is. We don't have it. It's no excuse. It's just a description and explanation of the situation in which we find ourselves in the last weeks.’
Tough but not impossible
Tuchel explains that the biggest difference between Chelsea and Man City so far this season as far as he is concerned is that they dealt better with injuries and the Covid situation.
‘Maybe it is unlucky, maybe they do it better or whatever but they have less injuries to key players and they did not suffer from Covid as we did over many weeks,’ he adds.
‘This is the huge difference because we had some draws in the season that were unnecessary and if you have your full squad, you create a certain atmosphere for everybody that pushes everybody to that edge that you need if you want to compete with them. They are the benchmark, they are the best team in England right now. This is something we have to admit realistically.
‘Let's play the game. If you look back to our last games [against Man City] when we have our full squad, when we feel good, when we're in good shape, we are always up for a good fight with Man City and we always push them to the limit and ask some questions that they don't like maybe to answer. But the situation at the moment is they're very strong, they're very consistent and they perform on the absolute highest level.
‘It is very tough but that doesn't make it impossible. It's football, it's 90 minutes so for 90 minutes, you can do anything. You can be brave, you can play with courage. You need a bit of luck, and you need a momentum and we need the top-level. No problem for tomorrow but in general it's like this.’
The Covid question
On the subject of Covid affecting clubs, Tuchel has a strong view on postponed matches and suggestions some games are being called off more due to injuries and international call-ups than positive Covid tests.
‘I strongly, strongly hope that's not the case,’ he stresses, ‘because otherwise I would be very, very angry because we are doing everything to make games happen. We were made to play when we thought we should maybe not, so I can only strongly hope that the rules are the same rules for everybody.’