F365 Says: No hiding Tuchel’s threat as Pep’s new nemesis

With two triumphs, Thomas Tuchel has … The post F365 Says: No hiding Tuchel’s threat as Pep’s new nemesis appeared first on Football365.

F365 Says: No hiding Tuchel’s threat as Pep’s new nemesis

In Part II of the Manchester City v Chelsea trilogy, Pep Guardiola tried his very best not to give Thomas Tuchel any spoilers ahead of the big finale in three weeks. But another Chelsea triumph suggests Tuchel has read the City boss’s script and he’s already begun to pick holes in Pep’s plot.

After , Tuchel today denied City the chance to win the title on their own terms on their own patch. It only delays the inevitable – City may well be champions by the time they go to Newcastle on Friday anyway since Manchester United play three times between now and then. It’s an irritation for City, but more bothersome for Guardiola is the nagging worry that he has a new nemesis ready to make him wait again for the one that really matters – City’s first Champions League triumph.

Nine changes in personnel and the deployment of a 5-1-4 formation by Guardiola almost made this Premier League meeting irrelevant in the context of the European final to come. Tuchel, though, despite making six changes of his own saw no reason to be quite as cagey. Perhaps that was because he could barely afford to be, with Chelsea in greater need of the points than City. But it could also illustrate Tuchel’s confidence over exploiting Guardiola’s vulnerabilities.

In the FA Cup semi-final, Chelsea made City look second best like few other sides this season. It was not a complicated plan, though the defensive cohesion Tuchel has dramatically implemented was certainly no simple fix. Stopping City takes incredible organisation and collective effort. Hurting them, though, is a little more straightforward.

Or so Chelsea make it look. At Wembley, Tuchel’s men got in behind City with alarming ease and regularity from Guardiola’s perspective. Here today, it was a similar story, certainly in the second half, with the visitors boosted by the shot in the arm administered to them by Sergio Aguero upon his spot of bother.

Just like at Wembley, it was Hakim Ziyech who beat Ederson first, but much of Chelsea’s threat again came from Timo Werner and his relentless running behind City’s high line.

Werner has been an unfathomable watch for much of this season. So often his finishing has lacked the necessary finesse and the timing of his runs can appear completely out of sync with the service his team-mates are trying to offer him. We saw examples of both flaws today. But, again, Werner showed just enough to have you believe that he can be forward Chelsea need. .

The German has ruffled Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo twice in three weeks. Werner has always had the pace to trouble defenders when the ball is played behind them, but Tuchel has also shown the former RB Leipzig striker how to vary his threat by coming deeper to receive the ball on the half turn. It may look like Werner isn’t too sure sometimes where he’s heading but his unpredictability has kept City guessing twice now.

If Werner was making the inside-left channel was a concern for City, Chelsea’s charges down the right will give Guardiola sleepless nights before May 29.

Chelsea are hardly the first team to expose Benjamin Mendy this season but Reece James pulled the City left-back’s pants down during the second half. Tuchel recognised Mendy’s misery and dispatched Callum Hudson-Odoi from the bench to compound it. His withdrawal with 10 minutes to play was an act of mercy on Pep’s part.

It was thought that James’s defensive flaws could be preyed upon by City but Tuchel turned that weakness into a strength after half-time by pushing the wing-back forward. Oleksandr Zinchenko would surely do a better job of securing City’s left in the final and Phil Foden’s presence will restrict whichever right-sider Tuchel opts to play in a way City’s many forwards failed to tonight.

That is just one of a number of changes Guardiola will make in time for the final but Tuchel now knows he need not tinker in the same way. Guardiola rarely needs an invitation to sweat the small stuff but Tuchel’s two triumphs have given the City boss plenty to overthink before the main event.

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Early winner: Alisson and Phillips shine as Liverpool offer hope…

It probably won’t be enough but … The post Early winner: Alisson and Phillips shine as Liverpool offer hope… appeared first on Football365.

Early winner: Alisson and Phillips shine as Liverpool offer hope…

You can’t blame Liverpool supporters if recent months have swayed them from believers to doubters.

A steady stream of points p*ssed away amid a spate of misfortune and an excess of calamity will do that to any fan base. So if Reds were experiencing a recently-familiar feeling of pessimism as their team grew increasingly nervous while defending a narrow lead that they seemingly refused to add to, the sight of Thiago’s nerve-settling maiden Premier League goal was like manna from heaven.

It sealed which sees Jurgen Klopp’s men move into the top six. More importantly, that and Sadio Mane’s first-half header keep their top-four hopes alive and, slender though those may be, it must be viewed as a step forward that Liverpool were able to capitalise on on Friday night.

The Reds remain six points off Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes with a game in hand but this victory over the Saints suggests the luck may be shifting and the penny has finally dropped, perhaps just in the nick of time.

One goal has rarely been enough for Liverpool since the turn of the year, especially at Anfield, where Premier League clean sheets have been nowhere to be found since a goalless draw with Manchester United 21 games and five long months ago.

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That crushing feeling of inevitability will have been heightened by the Reds’ shambolic failure to see out a victory against Newcastle a fortnight ago. But before Thiago’s late strike came some reassurance that perhaps this time, after nine home matches without a Premier League shutout, this might finally be the night when Liverpool don’t pull the trigger in their direction of their own feet.

Alisson was largely responsible for what little comfort Reds might have allowed themselves to feel. The Brazilian keeper has had a wretched season and a truly torrid time off the pitch too. But standing in the Saints’ way, Alisson was far more than just the shadow of his former self that he has appeared for much of the campaign.

Were it not for his double save immediately before Mane’s header, it would have been the Saints in front rather than the hosts. Liverpool were ripped through on the counter-attack, with Nathan Tella teeing up Che Adams with a ball from the right. Alisson, though, stood big and wide to block the Scotland striker’s attempted dink. Even then, Thiago and Trent Alexander-Arnold tried to give the Nathan Redmond another opportunity, which Alisson gratefully grasped.

Alisson made a string of second-half saves – one was to gather his own dropped bollock after passing straight to Adams – totalling half a dozen over the course of the 90 minutes. Which kept him considerably busier than usual, with the Liverpool No.1 averaging 2.4 per game this term.

That suggests Liverpool were a bigger shambles than usual at the back, which would be unfair on their rookie centre-back partnership Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.

Phillips particularly was solid. But this is what we have come to expect from the Bolton Baresi. In his last six appearances, Liverpool have kept four clean sheets. Whatever Klopp decides about Ozan Kabak’s future, Phillips has showed he deserves the manager’s faith.

An improved performance from their back five gave Liverpool the platform upon which to build and it made their lack of fluency in attack irrelevant once Thiago had slotted past Fraser Foster as the 90th-minute ticked by.

It probably won’t be enough but Liverpool have given themselves a chance, which itself is a turn-up for the books.


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