How Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel could break Man City’s domestic dominance


Halsey’s visit to Manchester City at lunch yesterday should have been a classic six-pointer in the race for the title.

Instead, even a victory for Thomas Tuchel’s side would do little to ignite confidence they could reel in Pep Guardiola’s runaway Premier League leaders, with Liverpool arguably the team that most Standing to profit if City’s relentless march can be stopped.

Tuchel is not yet ready to announce Chelsea’s title chase, but the fact that a win at the Etihad would still leave the top seven points behind is a grim reminder of the challenge the German faces. After the loss, he will be 13 points behind Guardiola.

He was to fight the Catalan this season after defeating him on three occasions in the previous stint – including in May’s Champions League final. But a six-point lead once at the top has given way to a 10-point deficit and history tells us that City do not allow such a commanding position to slip away.

So while tomorrow represents Chelsea’s last opportunity to offer a glimpse of a challenge for the defending champions – the wider question is whether they have the ability to break City’s dominance beyond this season and into 2017. What would it take to be awarded the first league title since?

Romelu Lukaku was supposed to be the last piece of the puzzle, but he has struggled for fitness and form. Tuchel still has to find the right balance with a bloated roster ahead.

Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi still fail to produce on a consistent basis and need to make some tough decisions this summer to sharpen Chelsea’s cutting edge with quality rather than quantity Will be

Top-class additions are also needed in midfield and defense, with more fringe players being fielded.

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Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s dominance in recent years has been due to their ability to drive away rivals, while Tuchel’s more pragmatic approach has been found lacking on several occasions this season.

While it is not fair to characterize Chelsea as an over-defensive team, it appears that strength at the back has taken priority over the front line which has consistently been a problem area under Tuchel. It looks like they’ll be able to seriously challenge Citi as long as that balance doesn’t change.

He is the best midfielder in the Premier League, if not the world and Chelsea just aren’t the same without N’Golo Kante.

But with the Frenchman increasingly sidelined by injury, he needs to find a viable alternative.

Declan Rice is not an equal replacement, but the West Ham man is a key man who will help ease the strain on the fork.

At City, Guardiola has been able to cover Kevin de Bruyne’s absence with a host of world-class options in Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Ilke Gundogan. Chelsea don’t have such luxury.

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Tuchel rejected the idea for December’s Junks, but it was Chelsea’s mid-season slump that effectively paid off their title hopes.

It cost Frank Lampard his job a year ago and it’s a consistent theme that when it starts to rot, it’s hard to get out.

While Tuchel may be pointing to factors mitigating last month, such as injuries and a Covid outbreak, he could not fail to be concerned with the soft underbelly, which will help Chelsea as Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the table. was exposed.

It’s an item that rarely affords Chelsea managers, but Tuchel is a proven winner with a long-term vision.

Given the opportunity to build the way Guardiola and Klopp did, he could really build a team in his own image.

The question is whether this is what Chelsea want. After all, they have a winning formula.

But with his wait for the title now extended to six years, will he have to revisit that model to regain domestic dominance?

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It’s not often that Chelsea are on the wrong end of the possession figures, but Tuchel accepts the fact that City will dominate the ball.

That hasn’t stopped the German from enjoying his rivalry with Guardiola better in recent days, winning three of his four contests since arriving at Stamford Bridge.

It’s a matter of patience and taking advantage of the numbers that propel City forward at the right time.

But Tuchel admitted his side was too passive in a 1-0 loss to the champions in September, despite the narrow scoreline, with Chelsea barely a glove and well-beaten on their opponents.

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The Moroccan winger has been a thorn in Guardiola, even as he continues to disappoint Tuchel.

He scored twice last season against City in the FA Cup semi-final and victory at the Etihad, with his pace at the break highlighting them repeatedly in those games.

He was an unused substitute in the Champions League final as well as in the September defeat, but whether used from the start or off the bench, he has the potential to be a match-winner.

Chelsea need their leaders to step up to the Etihad as they look to make a statement at the home of the Champions.

Even if a win is unlikely to change the course of the title race, it is a chance to put a marker.

And they will need big performances from Kante, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger if they are to halt City’s 11-game winning run in the league.

Rudiger underscored his influence at Chelsea with his stellar performance against Spurs on Wednesday – and the return of Kante and Silva from Covid means Tuchel has two of his most trusted lieutenants on hand for such an important match.