Tuchel stamps his mark on Chelsea
The German coach is not afraid to bruise the egos of top players and made it clear he expects his instructions to be carried out to the letter
London - After Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel’s relatively low-profile start to life in the Stamford Bridge hot seat, the German will welcome Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday after a week in which he has stamped his mark on his new club.
Last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Southampton maintained Tuchel’s unbeaten start but cost Chelsea their place in the top four. More significantly, it offered proof that Tuchel is not afraid to bruise egos. In hauling off England international Callum Hudson Odoi after 76 minutes, having sent him on as a halftime substitute, the German made it absolutely clear that he expects his instructions to be carried out to the tee.
Humiliating players so early into a managerial reign could be perceived as a risky strategy. But if proof were needed that Tuchel’s methods worked it came on Tuesday when his side produced a European masterclass to beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 away in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Significantly, Hudson Odoi started against Atletico as Tuchel completely outfoxed his wily counterpart, Diego Simeone.
That win means confidence will be high as Chelsea welcome second-placed United to Stamford Bridge, but Tuchel is well aware that the next five games could define their season.
“Now we play Man United, Liverpool, Everton and Leeds and we cannot get too comfortable, we cannot get lazy,” said Tuchel, whose side are fifth with 43 points from 25 games, two points behind West Ham United and six off Leicester City and United.
United returned to winning ways after a couple of draws with a 3-1 victory at home to Newcastle United last weekend and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side can put nine points between themselves and Chelsea if they win on Sunday.
However, with runaway leaders Manchester City up next weekend, Solskjaer knows that what looks like a healthy cushion could quickly disappear.
West Ham’s stunning form has put the cat among the pigeons and there is mounting belief in east London that manager David Moyes could be on the verge of something special.
A gritty 2-1 win at home to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend left the Hammers in the top four after at least 25 matches of a top-flight season for the first time since 1985/1986.
Tomorrow: Man City v West Ham, 2.30pm; West Brom v Brighton, 5pm; Leeds v Aston Villa, 10pm; Newcastle v Wolves, 10pm.
Sunday: Leicester v Arsenal, 2pm; Crystal Palace v Fulham, 2pm; Tottenham v Burnley, 4pm; Chelsea v Man United, 6.30pm; Sheffield v Liverpool, 9.15pm.
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