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Thomas Tuchel’s game-changing act shows what Chelsea must do to close Man City and Liverpool gap

Under the south-coast sun with Chelsea’s bright yellow shirts flying with confidence and scoring goals for fun, it would be easy to get carried away with the unrelenting fun in Saturday’s 6-0 win over Southampton.

And why shouldn’t fans enjoy it? After a five-day period that brought two miserable home defeats and the fear of Chelsea’s potentially enthralling end to the season, ending with a whimper.

Though as Thomas Tuchel usually does following Chelsea games, the Blues boss is able to find the right words to analyse the current mood and what a result means in the long-term, particularly with Manchester City and Liverpool facing off on Sunday afternoon.

Following his pretty blunt assessment of Chelsea’s sloppy performances in the previous two games, Tuchel was asked whether a team meeting after the 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid was key.

“It was necessary that turned things around, but we came from a long streak of winning and then we had the international break. Then we had five days where things don’t feel the same as before. So it wasn’t a huge turnaround, it wasn’t necessary to change everything.

“But it was the moment for us – or I had the feeling – that it was the moment to tell the group the truth, give my honest opinion, and tell them as a part of the group this is how I feel. So the message was clear and obviously, everybody took it in the right way, I included myself in the message and so it was necessary to step up today.

It is on the players to live up to what we play and they did it in an impressive manner today. So it’s now a time to move on because we’ve re-found what makes us strong and it was another proof of that and we keep on going.”

Tuchel’s open criticism of his own players was refreshing to hear and something a Champions League-winning group should come to expect when dropping such levels. Part of what has made Tuchel’s reign such a pleasure for supporters is feeling the sense of unity within the group.

However, when Tuchel was pressed further on what may have caused the recent downturn in form, the German’s telling observation came to reflect the gap Chelsea have to close with the Premier League’s top two.

“I think it tells us that we are not the team that can escape with results if our input is at 90% or 80% of our energy, commitment and investment. We are a special group when we have the priorities right. If we are committed, if we defend with courage, if we have the attitude right and the hunger right and win challenges.”

This is something both Manchester City and Liverpool have maybe been allowed to get away with this season given their sense of consistency and clarity under one coach for multiple seasons, whilst this is Tuchel’s first full season at Stamford Bridge.

The muscle memory within both of those squads has led to an almost robotic level of consistency that has propelled them above the rest of the league. As noted by Miguel Delaney, looking at points accumulated in the Premier League since August 2018 out of 432 available. City has racked up 338, Liverpool: 337 with the next best, Chelsea at 268.

Those are the levels Chelsea are tasked with reaching by Tuchel if they aim to reach the summit of English football again. Part of that comes down to the alignment of vision throughout the club. Something that will be vital as the Blues move into a new era of ownership.

 

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