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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel takes Man Utd and Liverpool dig as Man City close in on title


United served up a dour display in 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace at a misty Selhurst Park on Wednesday night, a result that leaves them 14 points behind leaders City.

The two teams meet in the Manchester derby on Sunday and though the Citizens have all but secured the title already, victory at the Etihad would truly secure their status as champions elect.

Pep Guardiola’s charges are 28 games unbeaten across all competitions and have won their last 21.

City have overcome the challenges of West Ham and Wolves in the past week and own the best attacking (56 goals scored in 27 games) and defensive (17 goals conceded) records in the league, amassing an superb 15 clean sheets in the top flight – two shy of the tally they managed in 38 games last term.

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Yet Tuchel, who took over at Chelsea from the sacked Frank Lampard in late January, believes that City have been allowed a relatively free run at the title.

Defeat to Tottenham on November 21 left Guardiola’s City – who were then toothless and out of sorts – with 12 points from their first eight games, their lowest points total in over a decade.

But as City have rediscovered such relentless winning form, the likes of Liverpool, United and even Spurs have fallen out of contention with a third crown in the past few years not essentially sown up.

Tuchel, who has yet to taste defeat after nine games as Chelsea boss ahead of Thursday’s trip to Anfield to face reigning champions Liverpool, was asked about the 21-point gap between his team and top-of-the-table City after they finished fourth under Lampard last year and 33 points off of the title-winning Reds.

The German coach responded: “The amount of points shows how big the gap was and still is. Sometimes it’s good to see the reality and speak it out loud.

“But still it has to be the ambition to close it as fast as possible. It’s a thin line between argument and giving an excuse and I don’t want to do that.

“Will we close the gap to City this season? We will not. This is not possible. But from next season on we all start from zero points.

“And City were in trouble this season and nobody took advantage of it. It’s proven in sports. You can improve fast. You can grow if you catch the momentum.

“We absolutely want to make it possible. Now we are challenging for the top four. And from next year. We will challenge for all titles and competitions for sure.”

Tuchel signed an 18-month contract when he took over from the axed Lampard but will hope to prove between now and the end of the season that he warrants longer in west London.

Chelsea need to qualify for the Champions League after a summer spend north of £220million and against Liverpool on Merseyside face a team equally desperate for a top-four finish.

At Liverpool, whose wide-sweeping injury crisis has crippled them this year, Jurgen Klopp was given time to engineer a team that has won major honours.

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His first trophy came in May 2019 in the Champions League final, having been appointed in October 2015, and the Reds won their first league title in 30 years the following season.

Tuchel though says he must earn the opportunity to get the kind of time Klopp has had at Liverpool with Chelsea, who notoriously demand rapid results, with Lampard axed 18 months into the job.

“I have to earn it that I can have the same time as Jurgen and Pep [Guardiola],” he continued. “This was no gift for them. Everybody saw every week what impact they could have on teams.

“This is what I have to prove. This is my job. This is my target. I have to work every week to make my impact here and show I deserve to have the same amount of time to build teams. I have to earn it.

“Is it more difficult here? No. I feel we have already become a union and we can do it together. I speak as a solid part of this development.”

Victory for Chelsea over Liverpool would put them four clear of Klopp and co. with 11 games remaining of the campaign, and would move them just four points behind second-placed Man United.


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