Before Sunday’s visit to Bramall Lane, Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel made it very clear that he’s taking things one game at a time. The focus is only on what’s coming next, not what may be after, or weeks or months down the road. This is the way. When you’re on the outside looking in towards what you set out to accomplish, this is the way.
After Sunday’s win at Bramall Lane, combined with other results this weekend, Chelsea are suddenly just one point behind fourth place Liverpool and just six points behind second place Manchester United. The top-four rescue project, which was the stated aim of the club when sacking Lampard and appointing Tuchel, looks much more realistic than just a few days ago.
But Tuchel, himself sacked by PSG barely two months ago, knows how quickly things can change. Focus must be maintained, and maintained with utmost concentration on just what’s next.
“What would it help to talk about [the top four]? It is clear that we are responsible now for a situation where we are close to where we want to be. We want to try everything to reach the top four and we said this very clear when we started.
“So now the guys put themselves in the situation where we are the hunters for the teams in front of us and we are close. It changes nothing because the next game in the league will be a home game and like everybody else we will be under the pressure to continue our run and build on the momentum. [...] This is what you do and from there on it is now the next challenge to improve, play FA Cup and the next game and keep on going. The future will take care of itself.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
That’s three wins and one draw for Tuchel then, with no opposing player scoring a goal against yet. Antonio Rüdiger decided to make things interesting by scoring one in the wrong net, but Chelsea were gifted a goal at the other end not long after, and that was enough to secure all three points.
It hasn’t been spectacular, but it’s been good enough and consistent enough — that latter quality has been in short supply for some time. We’ve seen before how such runs can snowball into something relentless and something special. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
“You arrive in Sheffield in February and it’s waiting for you. It feels like a cup game when you arrive against a team full of energy and courage. Against a very direct and physical team, you have to accept that not all moments in the game are easy and we accepted that, which was good.
“We had some difficult moments to overcome, we were lucky with the penalty not to be 1-0 down, but in general it was a deserved win and I’m happy for that because from here we can build confidence.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
Next up (in the league), another lower-half of the table team in Newcastle United (next weekend, after a midweek FA Cup tie against Barnsley). Let’s keep it going!