Thomas Tuchel has admitted Chelsea’s Premier League title race could be over if the Blues lose at “benchmark” club Manchester City on Saturday.
Chelsea trail Pep Guardiola’s City by 10 points heading into the weekend’s Etihad Stadium clash, with Andreas Christensen the Blues’ latest COVID-19 absentee.
Second-placed Chelsea toppled City 1-0 in Porto in May to win the Champions League, but Blues boss Tuchel admitted Guardiola’s men are still the best in England.
City have won 11 Premier League matches on the spin, while second-placed Chelsea have only lost once in 15 but have also drawn six matches in that stint.
Asked if defeat at City would end Chelsea’s title challenge, Tuchel replied: “Maybe, maybe, who knows?
“The biggest difference so far in the season, as far as I’m concerned, is that they dealt better with injuries and the COVID situation.
“Maybe it’s luck, maybe they do it better, whatever, but they have less injuries from key players, less players out and less weeks where they miss them.
“And they did not suffer from COVID as we did over many weeks. So this is a huge difference.
“Because we had some draws in the season that were unnecessary, and if you have the full squad you create a certain atmosphere that pushes everybody to the edge.
“And you need to be on your edge and at the very highest level if you want to compete with Man City.
“They are the benchmark, they are the best team in England right now. This is something we have to admit realistically.
“I’m always in for a good fight, but I’m also always very realistic.”