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Chelsea must take ‘realistic approach’ to rest of Premier League season, Thomas Tuchel admits

·3 min read
Chelsea trail defending champions and runaway leaders Manchester City  (REUTERS)
Chelsea trail defending champions and runaway leaders Manchester City (REUTERS)

Thomas Tuchel has told Chelsea to adopt a “realistic approach” to their Premier League ambitions this season and secure a vital top-four finish.

Third-placed Chelsea trail defending champions and runaway leaders Manchester City by 16 points, with any thoughts of the title long gone.

The Blues have already lifted the European Super Cup and Club World Cup titles this term however, and face Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.

Chelsea are still also in the hunt for the FA Cup and will bid to defend their Champions League crown – but Tuchel admitted his players can ill afford to lose any Premier League focus.

And Tuchel will send his players into Saturday’s clash at Crystal Palace with a clear message to drive back to their top form in the league.

“The 16 points (gap on City) sounds too much, is too much, to where we want to be and what we demand of ourselves, but it’s the reality,” said Tuchel.

“To reach your targets, a realistic approach is also necessary. So we should not get confused about winning the Premier League.

“And we still have to realise we are in the race for top four right now, which is a huge thing in Premier League in general. At the end of the season you can look back and think about the reason why it is like this, and try to do stuff better.

“You can do of course stuff within the season, try to improve, and this is what we do. But right now the focus has to be on a realistic approach, that we are in the race for the top four, and that maybe in the moment things are not super easy for us.

“But that we like the matches and don’t get frustrated when the matches are tough. We will not start judging competitions now, the most important game is at Crystal Palace tomorrow.

“And after that we go switching competitions, which is positive because it shows how we are progressing.

“So we should not lose faith now, and not get frustrated or less passionate about what we do. We must keep on going and push ourselves to the limit.”

Mason Mount will miss Saturday’s Palace trip, but Chelsea still hope to have him fit for the Carabao Cup final.

The 23-year-old suffered ankle ligament damage in the first minute of the Blues’ 2-1 Club World Cup final victory over Palmeiras.

Asked for an update on Mount’s situation, Tuchel replied: “We will push for the League Cup final, we will push, and he has injured ligaments in the very first minute of the final unfortunately.

“So the Champions League seems to be very, very close and we’ll try hard for the League Cup final.”

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is fit after an Achilles problem, not linked to his previous torn tendon injury.

Reece James will need further time to beat his long-standing hamstring problem however.

“Reece is still in individual training, he’s progressing a lot and he’s doing almost everything he can do in individual training,” said Tuchel.

“And the plan is that he joins the group next week.

“I actually don’t know (when he will be ready to play), every time I would say now would be wrong, it would just be guessing now. So I hope he can come back to team training next week, which will be the next step.

“Ruben had an Achilles injury, it was not big or painful, but it held him back.

“Since he is back he’s very strong, I can see that he feels free. He’s had an excellent training week.”