Thomas Tuchel refused to be drawn in to answering a question about Pep Guardiola, and hinted Chelsea favourite Thiago Silva could remain in London beyond this season.
The undoubted clash of the weekend will pit Chelsea against Man City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The pair are both expected to be in the thick of the title race this season and a hotly-contested 90 minutes are expected.
But speaking in his pre-match press conference (via Football London), Tuchel admitted he will be without regular starter Mason Mount. The Englishman has failed to recover from an injury suffered in their EFL Cup victory over Aston Villa.
“Christian Pulisic is out and Mason Mount it’s too soon,” said Tuchel. “He has a minor injury from the Aston Villa game. He made a big step, huge progress, but not enough.”
When asked how big of a blow losing Mount is, the German added: “He is very disappointed and I didn’t feel it during the match because it was the second half and he played through the injury. He finished the game, was confident to take an important penalty. So it was a surprise.
“The steps he is taking are huge, maybe it was possible if the game was one day later. So it’s a minor injury but there is disappointment for him and us because he is a player that we count on.
“But no matter the importance, no matter how we rely on him, the task is to find solutions without him and bring him back as soon as possible.”
Tuchel has adapted to life in the Premier League immediately and few would be surprised to see him lifting the title come May.
Doing so would ensure he got the better of Guardiola once more after Chelsea sunk Man City in the Champions League final four months ago.
When cheekily asked by a journalist if he was a better manager than Guardiola, Tuchel wisely shied away from answering the question directly.
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“This question does not even exist for me and I can’t answer it,” said Tuchel. “It’s a question for you guys and you can endlessly debate.
“I have the highest respect for Pep. I am a huge admirer for the impact he had from his first day of his professional coaching.
“The impact at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, he has my biggest respect. There is not reason to ask myself if I am a better coach. I do the best I can. I am in a place I am very happy, and I am a better coach today than yesterday.”
Chelsea extension in Thiago Silva’s court
Tuchel was then asked if Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva could remain at Stamford Bridge beyond this season. Despite recently turning 37, Silva has been a revelation since leaving PSG.
He scooped the man of the match award in a goalscoring display versus Tottenham last week. And Tuchel hinted the door is open for Silva to extend his stay with Chelsea after declaring “it’s on him”.
“It’s on him. He has to perform at this kind of level and that’s all he needs. It’s as easy and clear as that,” said Tuchel.
“When you play for Chelsea, you need to deliver and that is what he is doing. He is a top professional and if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t be performing at that level for many years.
“The only question we have to ask at the end of the season is this: Is he at the level to compete for Chelsea in every competition? We don’t have to answer that right now.”