Can Chelsea win the Premier League title this season? It’s a question Thomas Tuchel has been asked more than once in recent weeks. His response, however, is almost always the same.
“It will take all of us,” Tuchel explained once again last month. “It will take all of our courage, all of our effort, all of our discipline.
“It will simply take all of us. It’s like running a marathon. This league is extremely exhausting. We have different competitions. We are up for all competitions and the best outcome in all competitions. We are trying to close the gap.
“I have no problem in admitting that there was a gap in the last seasons and that Liverpool and Man City set the standards. They created a certain mentality with their managers together over the years.
“We try to close it, we are confident enough to say from the first day we want to close it. This is what drives us. We will work on it because it takes a lot to keep the momentum going.”
Close the gap has become something of a stock phrase for Tuchel. It was the message sent out by the Chelsea head coach ahead of meetings with Manchester City in the FA Cup, Premier League, and Champions League last term.
It was repeated by the German during pre-season. After the opening day win over Crystal Palace. And as recently as last month despite his side sitting top of the early Premier League table.
Tuchel isn’t trying to downplay expectations at Stamford Bridge. Nor are his words spoken with false modesty. He is simply being realistic.
Chelsea finished 19 points behind champions Man City last term. They trailed Liverpool by 33 points the season prior. “They have shown us over the last years what it takes to be able to become champions,” Tuchel accepted earlier this season.
However, it’s become clear that Chelsea’s players were paying attention as eleven games into the 2021/22 Premier League campaign, the Blues sit top of the table by three points.
That in itself is impressive given first-choice forwards Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner have both missed the last three weeks of football. There have also been injuries to N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic over that period and Christian Pulisic has been absent too.
Chelsea haven’t been knocked out of their stride by absences. Solutions have been found, players have stepped up. It’s the result of a stronger mentality within the squad, a greater desire to claim trophies. The Champions League triumph in May undoubtedly forged this.
Slip-ups have become few and far between. But when they have occurred, there has been an instantaneous reaction; expect the same after the international break following Burnley’s smash-and-grab 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.
Tuchel, of course, deserves huge credit. He sets the highest of standards, demands the absolute best of his squad at Cobham and come match-day. Players who do not meet those do not play. It’s that simple and ensures constant competitiveness within the squad.
All this has enabled Chelsea to move to the top of the Premier League table with relative ease. They have gone to Arsenal and won. Drawn at Anfield against Liverpool with ten men. Claimed victory at Tottenham. And chalked off four wins on the bounce before Burnley.
Their lead over Man City is three points. It’s four to Liverpool. Tuchel may not want to admit it, but the gap has been closed. Now the challenge is to ensure it doesn’t open once again.
Source by Football London