Chelsea’s 1-0 home defeat to title rivals Manchester City leaves Thomas Tuchel with more questions than answers as the German gears up for a title fight to remember
The German has hardly put a foot wrong since his appointment, guiding the Blues to two major cup finals, winning one in the Champions League while falling just short in the FA Cup final to Leicester City.
While the squad that secured last season’s success has been bolstered by the arrivals of Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez, both of whom have had contrasting starts to life at the club, Tuchel was issued a stark warning that prizing the title off Manchester City will be no easy feat – by Pep Guardiola’s side themselves.
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After an impressive start to the season that saw Chelsea visit the Emirates, Anfield and the Tottenham Hotspur stadium and come away with seven points, many tipped Chelsea as the team to beat.
Man City did just that on Saturday, when they arrived at Stamford Bridge with the bit between their teeth and ensured they were won every dual before Gabriel Jesus’ second-half strike was enough to hand Chelsea their first loss of the campaign.
Both the result and the manner of the defeat came as a surprise given Tuchel’s recent success over Guardiola, but the Spaniard out-thought his counterpart at the fourth attempt since Tuchel’s arrival in January.
Always one to take responsibility, Tuchel was honest and accepted his part to play in the defeat after the full-time whistle.
“I think for 60 minutes or until the goal, we were very strong in the last 20 metres of the field and only there”, Tuchel explained.
“There were 80 metres were we were not good enough and could not escape the pressure.
“To have ball possession but not only ball possession to switch play and hurt them and to grow in confidence, this never happened in the first half.”
Lukaku faced criticism for the first time since his triumphant return to the club this summer, with some bemoaning his performances in the bigger games as he has failed to score against Liverpool, Tottenham or Man City.
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However, Tuchel claimed that the Belgian was starved of service: “If we wanted to go for long balls to Romelu they were not precise enough.
I did not feel the belief that we can really escape with short balls, I did not think that if we play long balls we believed in it, it was doubtful and we were a little bit protecting something.
“It felt like there was something to lose but we had a lot to win, can happen we lacked a bit of freshness also.”