West Ham v Chelsea: Match in pictures
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Thomas Tuchel has fired a warning to his Chelsea players as they prepare to fight with Manchester City and Manchester United for the Premier League title next season. Tuchel has overseen a remarkable turnaround at the Blues since taking over from Frank Lampard in January, with many expecting them to challenge for a first title since 2017 next term.
After winning just two of their final eight league games under Lampard, Chelsea have returned to top four contention having lost just once under Tuchel.
Their impressive form, a result of their astonishing defensive performances, has also seen them tipped for a title challenge.
That stunning form continued on Saturday as they gave their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League by defeating West Ham 1-0.
The win at the London Stadium came courtesy of a rare Timo Werner goal, before the Blues again shut up shop in effective fashion.
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But despite the optimism flowing through fans and pundits about next season’s aspirations, Tuchel has moved to keep his side’s feet on the ground.
“We demand full focus and to reach your own highest level. We will demand that next season no matter what, no matter what the target is,” he said.
“The first target will be to win the opening match when it arrives and in pre-season we won’t allow anyone to even drop one per cent, not even in friendly matches.
“When you sign up for Chelsea you sign up for the highest competition and you sign up for winning.”
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Tuchel will hope his warning to his troops will not fall on deaf ears, with Chelsea set to be going up against the unstoppable Premier League force that is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Under Guardiola, City have won two of the last three titles and need just six more points to seal the title this season as well.
They have made those achievements in record-breaking fashion, becoming the Premier League’s first centurions in 2017/2018.
In that season, they also broke the record for most wins (32), most goals (106), most consecutive league wins (18) and biggest winning points margin.
They are again set to win the league by an astonishing margin, with Manchester United 10 points adrift with five games to play.
The only team that has come close to being able to compete with them is Liverpool, who have suffered a downturn in fortunes after an exhausting two years of battling Guardiola.
While Tuchel will hope that his team does not suffer a burn-out similar to Liverpool’s, the Blues will need to be just as relentless as Jurgen Klopp’s side to win the title.
Both City and United have lost just four times this season, so Tuchel will hope that Chelsea’s astonishing league record under him continues next season.
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