Thomas Tuchel has already spoken about the need for Chelsea to close the gap to Manchester City in the Premier League title race in 2021/22. That will be far easier said than done.
The Blues finished last season 19 points behind Pep Guardiola’s side. Yet Tuchel did oversee victories against Tottenham, Liverpool and Leicester City after taking charge in January and, of course, guided Chelsea to three wins in three different competitions against Man City.
The biggest of which was in the Champions League final in Porto last month. Tuchel’s side showed great composure and maturity in that game. They’ll need that if they’re to challenge for the title this term.
A good start is imperative but Chelsea couldn’t have been handed a tougher one. Tuchel’s side host Crystal Palace on the opening day of the Premier League campaign (August 14) before embarking on a run of five games in just over a month that will either launch a title charge or see one wilt early.
The Blues’ first away trip of the campaign will take them to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal (August 21). Rather bizarrely, Chelsea will be on their travels again a week later (August 28) to another member of the big six: Liverpool.
Tuchel guided the Blues to victory on his previous visit to Anfield back in February but Jurgen Klopp’s side will be a very different animal with Virgil van Dijk expected to have returned from his knee injury.
After the September international break, Chelsea return to action with a clash against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge (September 11) and will be looking to avenge the defeat suffered to Dean Smith’s side on the final day of the 2020/21 campaign.
What follows will again be a stern test for Tuchel and his players. The Blues will travel across London to face Tottenham Hotspur on September 18 before taking on Man City at Stamford Bridge a week later (September 25).
That opening run of fixtures will reveal a lot about the potential of the Chelsea side, which is likely to been improved with big-money signings in this summer’s transfer window.
If Chelsea are able to start well and overcome several of their top-six rivals, the Blues should have built momentum to carry them through October, November and December. Although Frank Lampard discovered that an early good run can quickly fall apart.
Yet if Tuchel’s side go into the New Year near the top of the table, they will have yet another big test of their title credentials in January.
On New Year’s Day, Chelsea will welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge. An FA Cup third round tie will then be played before the Blues head north to the Etihad to take on Man City.
A week later and it’s Tottenham, set to be overseen by Paulo Fonseca, at home. The fourth round of the FA Cup should then follow if Chelsea progress.
The summer window is officially open and now the Blues can look to build on European glory and bolster the squad to push for Premier League supremacy.
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There is a belief among the Chelsea fanbase heading into the 2020/21 campaign that the Blues can mount a genuine title challenge for the first time in four years.
The Champions League victory has played its part in that but the Blues proved after Tuchel’s arrival at the end of January they could go toe-to-toe with the Premier League’s best and more than hold their own.
They will need to do so again at the start of next season.