Thomas Tuchel has said that Chelsea are more focused on making the top four than challenging for the Premier League title after falling 16 points behind leaders Manchester City.
Chelsea were tipped as one of the favourites to win the title at the start of the campaign but have only picked up one victory in their last five league matches.
– ESPN+ viewers’ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
– Olley: Chelsea complete Abramovich’s quest to be world’s best
– Marcotti: What it means for Chelsea to be world champions?
Manchester United, West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham are in a battle to finish in the Champions League places and Tuchel said third-placed Chelsea need to look over their shoulder rather than looking to compete with City and Liverpool.
“Everything is quite hard and that is the challenge,” he told a news conference on Friday. “Sixteen points sounds too much, it’s too much to where we want to be and what we demand of ourselves.
“We should not get confused in thinking about winning the Premier League. We have to realise we are in the race for the top four right now which is a huge thing in the Premier League in general.
Thomas Tuchel has conceded that Chelsea are out of the Premier League title race. Photo by Michael Regan – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
“We will not start judging competitions now. The most important thing is tomorrow against Crystal Palace and after that we switch because are in a lot of competitions which is a good sign, we should not lose faith now.”
Chelsea return to domestic action at Selhurst Park after securing the club’s first-ever Club World Cup following a 2-1 victory over Palmeiras last week.
Romelu Lukaku scored in the final but has failed to live up to expectations following his €115 million move from Inter Milan with 10 goals in all competitions so far.
“We need a bit of more patience than we perhaps all wanted to have with his signing,” Tuchel said on the striker’s performances. “We demand a lot of our strikers in terms of intensity, so there are several reasons why things are maybe like this.
“There are teams who heavily rely on one goal scorer, that is no secret, but there are teams who rely on more shoulders. So both ways work and we want to bring Romelu to better situations. It’s an ongoing process.
“We still have trust because he has proved at any of the club’s he’s been that he is the guy who gets the last touch on the end of attacks.
“Disappointed is not the right word but, of course, we thought for him, I’m pretty sure for him as well he wanted to produce the numbers right from the start. We are all humans and we keep on going.”
Tuchel also confirmed that Mason Mount is pushing to make an appearance at the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on Feb. 27 despite “injured ligaments.”