Thomas Tuchel has reluctantly conceded that Tottenham have fully seized the chance to move ahead of Chelsea in the Premier League pecking order after their ownership uncertainties at the start of the summer.
Chelsea and Spurs face off on Sunday in the first all-Big Six clash of the 2022/23 season, and Tuchel believes he is preparing to take on one of this campaign’s title-challengers, suggesting Antonio Conte has put the north London club on a pedestal with Manchester City and Liverpool.
The Blues meanwhile have endured plenty of off-field issues that have threatened to derail their progress, not least a changing of the guard in the director’s box, with Todd Boehly succeeding Roman Abramovich, while director Marina Granovskaia and technical advisor Petr Cech have both since stepped down.
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Tuchel has looked to strengthen with the signings of Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly to offset the departures of Antonio Rudiger, Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku, but he believes Spurs have enjoyed the more productive window.
He told reporters ahead of Sunday’s clash: “They took advantage of their situation in that they have a stable club, the ownership was clear. It was clear that they reached the Champions League and took advantage to reinforce their squad very early. It was very straightforward.
“They had a calm pre-season. The roads were clear. It seems like they are a bit ahead of us from the start — out of the blocks — but it does not mean that you win the race just because you win the start.”
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On Conte, Tuchel added: “I mean it in a very friendly way that I don’t believe everything he says. If he tells you today which team he will pick, we will not believe.
“If he tells you some tactical things or tells you we are the huge favourites, we will not believe. Every team Antonio Conte trains is a title contender. It’s always like this, in every country with every team.
“He will push them to the limit and any team with this kind of quality management who pushes players to the limit can over-perform and fight for the top four. If you fight for the top four, you fight for everything. If you’re in the race in March, you fight for everything.
“He will never admit it but for me, an Antonio Conte team fights always for everything.”