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Thomas Tuchel adamant Chelsea don’t need major spend despite Man City gap as injuries and Covid derail title bid

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Thomas Tuchel watched Chelsea’s slim title chances all but fade away with defeat at Manchester City but remains adamant they do not need to spend their way back to the top of English football.

While the German is still hoping to recruit this month to cover the absences of Ben Chilwell and Reece James, he claims he would have been able to mount a more serious challenge to Pep Guardiola if not for injuries and the latest surge of Covid.

Chelsea are 13 points adrift of City after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the Etihad and now sit third in the table.

By comparison, Frank Lampard’s side were 11 points off the top when the former manager was sacked last January – but were languishing in ninth place.

Chelsea’s hierarchy believed Lampard was failing to maximise the potential of an expensively-assembled squad – and that was justified when Tuchel went on to lead them to a Champions League triumph within four months.

While Tuchel has always played down suggestions his side should be considered title favourites – even when leading the table by six points earlier in the season – he is still convinced they have the quality to be genuine contenders.

He said: “Of course we will try to improve, but if you mean do we need other players, I think we just need our whole squad. Were Liverpool able to compete last year for the title? No. The only real difference was that they were lacking Virgil van Dijk.

“I said it many times, key players are key players because they are key in everything they do and every way in which they behave. And our team is a strong team.

“I love the ambition, I love the attitude and hunger with which we are playing. We are still brave and we are still up for a good fight and you can trust anyone you put on the pitch. We need everyone and we struggled because of long-term injuries and Covid.”

Thomas Tuchel never believed that Chelsea should be considered Premier League title favourites (REUTERS)
Thomas Tuchel never believed that Chelsea should be considered Premier League title favourites (REUTERS)

Tuchel’s job now is to salvage the rest of the season, with his side still competing in every cup competition. But he was expected to close the gap on City, which is only widening.

To add to the concerns at the club, he also ran the risk of causing fresh friction between him and Romelu Lukaku when assessing the striker’s performance.

The Belgium international was dropped earlier this month after conducting a controversial interview on Italian TV but was recalled after clear-the-air talks and an apology.

On Saturday, he had Chelsea’s two best chances of the game but passed to an offside Hakim Ziyech instead of shooting in the first half and then saw a one-on-one saved by Ederson after the break.

Tuchel said: “Of course, we want to serve him, but he is part of the team and sometimes he needs to do service as well.”

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