Thomas Tuchel says Tottenham took advantage of Chelsea’s chaotic situation to get a jump on their London rivals, insisting any claims from Antonio Conte that there is a gap between the two clubs is make-believe.
Tuchel yesterday went as far as to claim Tottenham are title- contenders thanks to Conte, who previously complained about a gulf between themselves and Chelsea after losing three times in 19 days in January — twice in their two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final and then again in the Premier League.
Yet a messy seven months since then has seen Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia and technical advisor Petr Cech leave the club and their ownership change hands from Roman Abramovich to Todd Boehly.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s showdown at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel said he feels Tottenham used their freedom to catch up and potentially overtake his shackled Chelsea side.
‘They took advantage of their situation in that they have a stable club, the ownership was clear. It was clear that they reached the Champions League and took advantage to reinforce their squad very early. It was very straightforward.
‘They had a calm pre-season. The roads were clear. It seems like they are a bit ahead of us from the start — out of the blocks — but it does not mean that you win the race just because you win the start.’
On Conte, Tuchel continued: ‘I mean it in a very friendly way that I don’t believe everything he says. If he tells you today which team he will pick, we will not believe.
‘If he tells you some tactical things or tells you we are the huge favourites, we will not believe. Every team Antonio Conte trains is a title contender. It’s always like this, in every country with every team.
‘He will push them to the limit and any team with this kind of quality management who pushes players to the limit can over-perform and fight for the top four. If you fight for the top four, you fight for everything. If you’re in the race in March, you fight for everything.
‘He will never admit it but for me, an Antonio Conte team fights always for everything.’
Tuchel also said he never had any issues with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang amid talk of a reunion between the pair.
Tuchel and Aubameyang worked together at Borussia Dortmund and the 33-year-old Barcelona striker — who lost the Arsenal captaincy under Mikel Arteta due to his behaviour, one of his crimes being poor time-keeping — is being linked with Chelsea following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
Tuchel refused to confirm or deny the rumours but said: ‘At Dortmund, there was never an issue. We had a very close relationship.’