Football

Manchester clubs battle for Premier League supremacy as Tuchel begins at Chelsea

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to become the first coach to steer Manchester United to the Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to become the first coach to steer Manchester United to the Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. Reuters/John Sibley
4 min

Manchester United entertain bottom of the table Sheffield United on Wednesday night with a chance to return to the top of the English Premier League.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have won four and drawn one of their last five games to emerge as one of the title contenders.

On Tuesday night, Manchester City surged to the summit with a 5-0 annihilation of West Bromwich Albion despite the absence of record goalscorer Sergio Aguero and playmaker Kevin De Bruyne.

Ilkay Gundogan took over as main marksman. The 30-year-old Germany international scored either side of Joao Cancelo’s classy strike to make it 3-0 after 30 minutes.

Riyad Mahrez blasted in the fourth on the stroke of half-time after being set up by Raheem Sterling.

Rout

Twelve minutes into the second-half, Mahrez returned the favour for Sterling and City entered cruise control to register their seventh consecutive Premier League victory since a 1-1 draw at home to West Brom on 15 December.

"The way we play, everyone is involved in the attack,” said City boss Pep Guardiola. “It is important to arrive in the box and create chances.”

City have fired in 18 goals and conceded once since the start of the unbeaten league streak.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola Oli SCARFF AFP

Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi was the last man to breach the rearguard in the Premier League. His was a stoppage-time consolation for the hosts who were outclassed 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on 3 January.

As City have risen, Chelsea have slumped from a brief moment on top of the pile to 10th.

Head coach Frank Lampard has paid for the decline with his job. The 42-year-old was dismissed on Monday after 18 months in the dugout.

His replacement, the former Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel, was appointed on Tuesday and the 47-year-old German will take charge of Chelsea’s match against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday night.

Tuchel, before going to PSG in July 2018, cut his teeth in the German Bundesliga leading Mainz and then Borussia Dortmund where he won the German Cup in 2017.

Talent

Guardiola, who was at Bayern Munich before joining City in 2016, said: ”Tuchel is an exceptional coach. I'm sure he's going to be successful. I am happy to see him in this country. When I was at Bayern Munich, I played against his Mainz sides.

“At Dortmund he did an incredible job,” Guardiola added. “The way the team played was remarkable. With Bayern, we had to fight a lot to win the title. He is a friend and I am happy to see him.”

Whether Chelsea fans feel the same way about Tuchel remains to be seen.

Lampard was one of the club’s greatest players during his 13 years in west London.

He skippered the side to Champions League glory in 2012. He also lifted a dozen other trophies including four FA Cups and three Premier League titles.

Further down the Premier League foodchain, 17th placed Brighton and Hove Albion take on Fulham who are 18th - one of the three relegation places.

“I still feel as a team we’re improving and we’ve developed,” said Fulham boss Scott Parker ahead of the clash at the Amex Stadium in Brighton.

“I feel like I have a team here that can go and win two, three games back-to-back. You may think that’s mad to say that because we’ve won two all year, but that’s the way I feel.”

After Brighton, Fulham travel to West Bromwich Albion who are 19th.

“Of course they’re big games because of where both teams are in the division,” added Parker.

“They are where our competition will probably be this year, but I don’t think they’re the be all and end all as there are still a lot of games.”

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