Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has talked up the importance of Sunday’s meeting with Manchester United in the battle for a top four finish in the Premier League.
Six points separates Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in second and the Blues in fifth on a tally of 43.
The German has made a fine start to life at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are unbeaten in all eight of his matches ahead of this west London clash, but visitors are yet to lose on the road in the league this season.
“Hopefully we can win, this is what we go for,” Tuchel said.
“We know that it is a big challenge because of their unbeaten away record so far. We know what we are up against, a team that can hurt you any second with individual quality and with speed.
“They are a strong team away, they can defend very compact and they are very, very good in transition. Whoever plays it will be a big challenge to defend all this, to defend counter-attacks.
“The implications are huge. If we get a win out of this game, it is huge and if they get a win, it is huge for them to increase the difference between us.”
Two elder statesmen could have a big say on who triumphs at Stamford Bridge with 34-year-old duo Olivier Giroud and Edinson Cavani both showing their quality for their respective sides on numerous occasions this term.
In midweek it was Frenchman Giroud who grabbed the only goal of the game for Chelsea in their 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League while Cavani, who Tuchel worked with at Paris St Germain, has struck seven times for the Red Devils this season.
The 47-year-old added: “Look at them when they switch shirts, they are totally fit. Their fitness is key. Oli has zero body fat, same as Edi.
“Edi is a player like Oli, who as a number nine, is always concerned about the team, will suffer for the team, always ready to sacrifice, always ready to do runs to open spaces. This is the characteristic of them both.
“Then in the box, they are both excellent finishers, they are experienced, they don’t get nervous and they both have composure, so they are both top quality strikers. Top quality number nines and for me their fitness and self discipline is key to their success.”
The Chelsea boss was not giving anything away on whether Giroud would retain his starting position for this weekend, but he will still be without Thiago Silva who is yet to return from a thigh injury.
This will be the third time Tuchel has faced Solskjaer this season after PSG and Man United were paired together in the Champions League group stages.
During the 2018-19 campaign the two managers also crossed paths in Europe, this time in the knock-out stage, and it remains honours even with two wins each.
“It helps that you know the style, strengths, weaknesses and it helps you to prepare but we won’t show pictures from these games to help the team,” Tuchel insisted.
“We will focus on the last four weeks as always but to have a clear picture from the last two fixtures this season or the knock-out that we played one-and-a-half years ago gives a pretty good impression on the style they want to play, the spaces where they want to hurt us, their strengths individually and as a group – that helps us to prepare.
“We will underline our opinion and knowledge from Man United for the last four weeks like always and prepare our team as always to hopefully win this match.
“In the end, we will focus on us and what we need to do to win this difficult match. There’s a lot to do but we are on a good run and it will be a big challenge to be the first to beat them in an away game.”
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