The Germany international defender admits Thomas Tuchel’s side are paying little attention to the title race as they keep focus locked on themselves
Antonio Rudiger says Chelsea are paying no attention to the exploits of rampant Manchester City, with Thomas Tuchel’s side ignoring the Premier League title race as they brace for a top-four “battle”.
The Blues have come back into contention for Champions League qualification after making a change in the dugout, with club legend Frank Lampard paying the price for early inconsistency in 2020-21.
Chelsea are up to fifth in the table, one point behind capital neighbours West Ham, and have momentum building after going nine games unbeaten under a new coach.
What has been said?
Rudiger told the club’s official website : “It depends on us. We still have a lot of games to play and also against direct opponents so the battle is still in our own hands.
“What the coach has brought is his way of playing, detailed work and the defensive shape is very good at the moment.
“Our aim is to arrive in the top four. We don’t need to look at Man City at this moment because they are far ahead but, with the top four, everything is open.”
Who else is in contention for a top-four spot?
While City have started to pull clear at the summit, with Pep Guardiola’s side in the midst of a 20-game winning run across all competitions, the chasing pack have bunched up behind them.
Manchester United, who sit second, are just a point clear of Leicester.
West Ham occupy the last of the Champions League places, but they are only two points better off than Everton in seventh and six clear of Aston Villa in ninth.
Even Arsenal, who sit 10th on 37 points, will feel that they could yet come into contention if a positive run of results can be strung together.
The bigger picture
Chelsea, given the elaborate spending spree they took in during the summer of 2020, will be desperate to ensure that they have elite European competition on the agenda next season.
Tuchel has been brought in to get them over that line, with title challenges a target that can be set further down the line by the highly-rated German tactician.
Thursday’s trip to Anfield has the potential to be a season-defining clash for both Chelsea and Liverpool, with two ambitious clubs aware that they cannot afford any more untimely slip-ups in a push for the finishing post.