Chelsea have a chance to extend their Premier League lead with a win over Norwich City this weekend, but there are worrying parallels with a loss from last season
On paper, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel couldn’t have asked for a better Premier League fixture list if he’d tried.
Second-place Liverpool travel to face Manchester United in sixth, third and fourth go head-to-head as Manchester City face Brighton & Hove Albion, and Spurs in fifth face a London derby at seventh-place West Ham United.
As for the Blues themselves, it’s a home meeting with a Norwich City side who sit rock bottom of the table with just two points and two goals from their opening eight matches.
All things being equal, Chelsea should end the weekend top of the league, and potentially more than one point clear.
However, their manager’s recent comments have given them reason for caution as they aim to avoid a repeat of one of their lowest moments under Tuchel last season.
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“If you turn the wheel and turn the wheel and turn the wheel then you get tired,” Tuchel said in his press conference ahead of the Norwich game, which Chelsea will go into without Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
Both of the strikers were taken off injured during the midweek Champions League win over Malmo, and the manager’s comments about tiredness echo his words last month after a defeat against Juventus.
“I felt us slow, tired, mentally slow with our decision making,” the former Paris Saint-Germain manager admitted after the loss in Turin.
“I didn’t feel us fresh today mentally. We were in training yesterday. Today it was not like this. I don’t know why.”
Norwich City are no Juventus, of course, but nor were the West Bromwich Albion side who put five past the Blues back in April.
On that occasion, Chelsea were unbeaten in 10 league games and up against opponents in the bottom three, only to concede more goals in 90 minutes than they had in the previous 900.
Matheus Pereira scored twice at the end of the first half to turn things around after Christian Pulisic’s opener, while Callum Robinson also hit a double after the break in an eventual 5-2 away win.
While there were extenuating circumstances that afternoon, such as Thiago Silva’s first-half red card and a slow recovery from the international break, it would be remiss to ignore the manager’s comments after the defeat.
“When it was 11 against 11, I wasn’t super-happy but that was OK,” Tuchel said after a Matheus Pereira-inspired West Brom put his team to the sword.
“I didn’t expect too much after the international break and the early kick-off,” he added.
While Chelsea have played twice since the most recent international break, there were a few warning signs in their trip to Brentford last weekend which might raise concerns.
Throw in the injuries suffered by Lukaku and Werner in a punishing midweek clash, and you get the sense Chelsea could be caught out if they rest on their laurels.
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Following the defeat to West Brom, Tuchel spoke of the need to learn from their experience, saying: “Hopefully it’s a big wake up call for all of us – me included.”
The Blues responded immediately, beating Porto in the Champions League quarter-finals just days later and then winning four of their following five league matches.
As Tuchel attempts to shake off the distractions of injuries and tiredness against the Canaries on Saturday, he’ll hope enough lessons have been learned from another humbling defeat against a team in yellow and green.
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