Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel insists securing a top-four finish in the Premier League will fulfil the task asked of him when he arrived at the club. Chelsea know victory away at Aston Villa will guarantee qualification into next season’s Champions League. However, anything less than three points would open the door for Liverpool and Leicester to usurp them in the table.
Tuchel replaced the sacked Frank Lampard in January with the Blues languishing in ninth place.
But a vastly improved run of form means they stand on the brink of finishing the season as high as third.
Asked how much of an achievement a top-four finish would be, Tuchel made it clear of owner Roman Abramovich’s demands when he took the job.
It would be the main target for all of us,” Tuchel said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
Having a busy schedule made it harder. We had so many games and a tight schedule.
“It was a complicated situation to reach the final, go back to top-four race, then a semi-final in the Champions League.
There are so many competitions and so many levels in these competition.
“So it demanded a lot of different levels of concentration for us.
It’s what we worked for and it’s still in our hands. We know how hard it is to play at Aston Villa but we are determined to do it.”
Chelsea are in the final of the Champions League, where they play Manchester City in Porto on May 29.
Tuchel says there will be less pressure on his players if they get the job done against Villa this weekend.
However, the 47-year-old insists the focus in the final will be on winning the match in hand, not the potential consequences of it.
For sure it takes some pressure off,” he added.
“But I don’t think when we arrive next week for the Champions League final that it would be in our heads to make it into Champions League next season.
“We will play 100 per cent no matter what to win the game.
“The side effect could be a crucial one but we don’t want to play this final to arrive in the Champions League.
We put so much hard work, quality into the last months. We want to finish the game on Sunday.
“We want to finish the game on Sunday but we don’t know what expects us. Anything can happen in 90 minutes of football.”
Tuchel confirmed Andreas Christensen is available and will be in the squad on Sunday following his injury.
However, Kai Havertz and N’Golo Kante face late tests to see if they are fit enough to play at Villa Park.