Chelsea have shown they have all the ingredients required to win a Premier League title, they have the recipe for success, it’s now down to them to prove they have the patience and stamina across a full season.
Showdowns like this one against Man City are very useful to assess where they are as a team. Expect Tuchel to adopt a safety-first approach against the reigning champions.
City have either been explosive or muted so far this term with no solid middle ground. Guardiola will be looking to strike a balance against Chelsea and would probably take a point here.
The Blues sit atop the table with 13 points – level with Liverpool and Manchester United just below them – and will be determined to open up a gap at the summit. Thomas Tuchel has proven his men can mix it with the top teams in the world since becoming boss earlier in 2021, now he must sustain the Blues’ early pressure to mount a credible title surge.
Dreams of a continental and domestic double will end for Chelsea or Manchester City this weekend, as the two sides lock horns in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.
Both clubs booked their spots in the semi-finals of the Champions League in midweek, as Thomas Tuchel’s men overcame Porto 2-1 on aggregate while Pep Guardiola’s quarter-final hoodoo ended with a dominant 4-2 success over two legs against Borussia Dortmund.
Chelsea are aiming to go one better in the FA Cup after losing to Arsenal in last season’s final, while Man City were knocked out at this stage by the Gunners in the 2019-20 tournament.
Porto’s Mehdi Taremi entered his nomination for the greatest inconsequential goal ever scored in his side’s Champions League quarter-final second leg with Chelsea in Seville, but as aesthetically pleasing as his injury-time overhead kick was, it was too little too late for the Portuguese giants.
Chelsea’s 2-0 triumph in the first leg – courtesy of goals from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell – ultimately proved to be the difference as Thomas Tuchel steered the Blues to a Champions League semi-final, where they will now meet serial winners Real Madrid following their elimination of Liverpool.
Tuchel has already endeared himself to the Chelsea faithful with his side’s free-flowing attacking sequences and dogged defensive unit since replacing Frank Lampard at the helm, and another European crown would be the perfect way for the former Paris Saint-Germain manager to prove his worth to the club’s notoriously trigger-happy hierarchy, although he may have to get one over his old club in the final should Chelsea get there.
The Blues are far from guaranteed a spot in Europe’s elite competition via their league position, though, as they sit one point adrift of fourth-placed West Ham United following their humbling at the hands of West Bromwich Albion, although they did at least manage to put Crystal Palace to the sword last time out domestically.
A 3-1 win over Luton Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup signalled the end of Lampard’s tenure in the Stamford Bridge hotseat, and Tuchel has, unsurprisingly, navigated tests against Barnsley and Sheffield United without seeing his defence breached in the previous two rounds.
Should the Blues manage to get one over perennial cup winners Man City, it will mark the fourth time in five seasons that they have reached the showpiece event in England’s premier cup competition – with a fifth-round defeat to Manchester United in 2018-19 being the only exception – and a 15th final would put them third on the all-time list behind Arsenal (21) and Man United (20).
Tuchel’s first two defeats in the Stamford Bridge hotseat hardly requires the panic button to be pressed, and the fatigued Blues’ goal-shy showing in midweek did not matter whatsoever as they booked their place in the Champions League semis, but the normally-resilient Chelsea defence now boasts just one clean sheet in four games.
Even though an FA Cup triumph would not be enough to secure a spot in next season’s Champions League, a first piece of silverware would go a long way to securing Tuchel’s future in the Blues’ dugout, as whoever comes up trumps in this tie will certainly be favourites to overcome Leicester City or Southampton on May 15.