After finishing third and second the last two years, it’s been a horrendous campaign for Manchester United this season, currently sitting sixth and fighting a losing battle for fourth. Their recent form has ben particularly poor, with just two wins from eight in the league, including defeats in three of the last four.
But Thomas Tuchel isn’t taking the challenge of playing at Old Trafford lightly, especially as we haven’t won there since 2013.
“I am personally very happy to play against Man United at Old Trafford. For me it is one of the biggest stages, one of the biggest stadiums and one of the biggest clubs and locations to play. I arrive with a strong club, a strong team — this is the best way to arrive as a coach.
“I am very happy to have this match, and it will always be a big match for me, no matter which position and what current form they are in. That is why we prepare in the best possible way. We don’t reflect so much on their situation and what is going on in and around the club. We focus on their last matches, and we should not get confused by the lack of points. For me, this squad is full of quality, and we need to take care on the pitch.”
United have confirmed the appointment of Erik ten Hag as their new head coach starting next season, but for now, they remain under the management of Ralf Rangnick. The 63-year-old has had tremendous influence and impact on football over the past four decades, including giving a then just 27-year-old Tuchel his start in coaching in 2000.
Tuchel has faced his mentor five times previously, winning four of five as Mainz 05 boss, but this will be their first competitive meeting since 2011.
“When he managed Stuttgart, he opened the door for me to the academy. He gave me the chance to make an internship with the under-17s. From there, I tried to be the best possible...”
“This is pretty much the story [but] it’s nice to see him always. It’s tough to play against teams like his. We will maybe have time for a quick chat, five minutes, but contact is not on a daily or weekly basis.”
Our task will be made even tougher thanks to the various injury concerns in the squad. with Mateo Kovačić and Callum Hudson-Odoi remaining out and Antonio Rüdiger, Reece James, and Andreas Christensen questionable as well. Ross Barkley is also out, in case anyone cares.
“Kova will still be out, Ben Chilwell be out, and Callum will still be out.
“Toni Rüdiger was in training yesterday, same with Reece James. We have another training coming, and hopefully, they can do full training and give us the green light. We have hopes they can be in the squad a play tomorrow. The same with Andreas, we need another examination because he felt sick and will come back to training from today.
“Ross Barkley is sick as well and will not be in the squad.”
As poor as our home form has been, Chelsea’s away record has been quite excellent — in fact, we’ve won eight in a row in all competitions, a club record. But our record against United has been poor over the past decade, and will need to be at our best to avoid dropping points even if the stakes might be lower than usual.
“We would love to be, and I think Manchester United would love to be in a title-decider, but unfortunately, there are two other teams in red and blue who have a word to say and, over the last years, have made their point strongly. We have to accept it, and we have to try to close the gap and Man United as well.
“[And] it’s always a good time for the win. No matter if you won the last match or last two against the same opponent. A win is always the next match. [We] try to prepare in the best way possible and win the match tomorrow. Chelsea and Man United, as a football fan and a big fan of the Premier League, it is a big match, and I would always watch it. To be a part of it would be nice.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
And winning it would be even nicer.