Thomas Tuchel’s Man City redemption must not repeat Pep Guardiola’s Chelsea meltdown – Football.London

Thomas Tuchel admitted he got it tactically wrong when Chelsea were beaten by Manchester City earlier this season and says he has learned his lesson.

News of Andreas Christensen’s positive Covid test may well see Tuchel have to switch it up tactically from that first game, not that he will want to after City came to Stamford Bridge and eased to a 1-0 win to hand the Blues their first defeat of the season.

The German tactician had moved away from his preferred 3-4-2-1 and went with a 3-5-2, starting Timo Werner alongside Romelu Lukaku in a move that didn’t work out. City were supreme on the day and the scoreline didn’t reflect their dominance but that was a result that clearly grinds Tuchel’s gears.

He said at his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of the two sides facing off this weekend at the Etihad: “My approach was the wrong approach tactically. It made us too passive, we could have done better.

“I think the approach was too passive, too defensive. It was not meant like this but it turned out this way. Lesson learned.

“They were too aggressive for our build up play, we did not have the solution to escape from our own half. We defended very well in the last 18, 20 metres of the field. We did not see much of the other half.

“Second half was better, a bit wild. It’s not the worst thing to have a wild match against Manchester City and to break out of the structure and all the control situations. Second half was better, lesson learned.”

Tuchel could revert to his preferred formation but it would mean starting Thiago Silva at centre half having only had 20 minutes in his legs after a Covid-enforced absence. Both Trevoh Chalobah and Christensen will be ruled out so if he were to go with the three, Cesar Azpilicueta will play as a right-sided centre half.

That would then mean one of his attacking players, be it Christian Pulisic or Callum Hudson-Odoi, pushed to a wing-back role with Reece James also ruled out through injury.

Tuchel has been using a back four in recent games and he could also do so against City to match them up, though City very rarely defend in a four thanks to their rampaging full backs and the central midfield cover with Rodri or Fernandinho.

Malang Sarr, who was very impressive in midweek against Spurs, could be handed another start in that case in what would be by far and away the strongest test of his career so far up against a free-scoring team who are ten points clear at the top of the table.

The previous result against City earlier this season is one that has clearly irked Tuchel. Guardiola is often prone to making a sudden tactical or personnel switch you don’t expect in big games – not playing a defensive midfielder in the Champions League final defeat to Tuchel immediately springs to mind – but Tuchel will not be as reactive as that.

Chelsea’s flanks were their biggest strength in the Champions League final win but without the services of Ben Chilwell and Reece James, who were both superb in Porto, a different approach might be needed for Tuchel to get the better of Guardiola.

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