Moving to Aston Villa this Sunday (6.30 p.m.), the Blues have no choice but to bounce back or see City and Liverpool take the lead. The title race could take a decisive turn on Boxing Day.

The state of grace for Chelsea is over. Leading the Premier League on the evening of the 14th day, the Blues gradually fell through December until they found themselves six lengths behind Manchester City before the Boxing Day festivities . And their first match on the side of Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa (6.30 p.m.), positive for Covid-19 and therefore absent from the bench of the Villans, is already of major importance in order to to continue dreaming of a first league title since 2017.

The Londoners were off to a good start, however, with six wins in eight league appearances before being knocked down by the ardor of neighbor West Ham on December 4 (2-3). Since then, Chelsea have won just one small, tight-knit match against the ailing Leeds (3-2, 11 December), and remain on two inglorious draws against Everton (1-1) and Wolverhampton (0-0), to which is added the end of the match wasted in Saint-Petersburg in C1, which deprived the Blues of first place of the group. A meager record at the time of embarking on the holiday marathon.

“Right now it’s too easy to take points at Chelsea. We allow them to get away with points and draws. It happens too often ”, enraged Thomas Tuchel at the Sport talk microphone, on the evening of the draw at home against a diminished Everton (1-1, December 16). The German technician deplored a recent lack of sharpness of his troops, long carried away by the ardor of the young generation of “Baby Blues” (players of the academy) .

Only the brilliant Mason Mount (4 goals in 5 matches in December) continues to perform in front, since he is the only offensive element to have scored at least one goal in December. Moreover, the London attackers, like the American Christian Pulisic, who could experience his last hours on Cobham’s side, are downâ ?? ¦ or in the inability to play. Thus, the workforce of the champions of Europe has been severely tested by the Covid-19 in recent weeks with an absence of three attackers (Lukaku, Werner, Hudson-Odoi ), to which has been added Kai Havertz, also ill without testing positive.

Non-negligible absences for an already less dashing formation, both offensive and defensive. But as many elements as Tuchel hopes to recover for the crucial appointments which are announced, with the future receptions of Brighton (29 December, 8:30 p.m.) and especially from Liverpool (January 2, 5:30 p.m.). Infernal rates that the former coach of PSG discovered (he arrived in January 2021) but which he tastes little in these difficult times. Â € œWe have never experienced this, we are only concerned about the health of the players, the German got angry after the draw At Wolverhampton (0-0), a match that Chelsea had tried to postpone. They are worried about their health because we have had several positive cases in the last few weeks and it will continue. I have said it over and over again, I do not understand why the Championship is not interrupted. “

Words which therefore date back a week and which called into question the holding of the sacrosanct week of Boxing Day, which will be held well, at all costs and despite three matches already postponed © s this Sunday. And to allow his players to keep (a little) in shape, the former Dortmund coach argued in favor of a return of the five changes, abandoned this season only in the Premier League. “I am a strong supporter of the Five Changes. They were invented during the pandemic and I think we should put them back if we want to continue playing, ”pleaded Tuchel, whose voice is starting to be heard there. like his influential compatriot Jürgen Klopp.

And to do as well as Liverpool coach in 2020, the Chelsea manager will need to regain his squad in full possession of its means. Because everything remains to be played, as his playing master Mason Mount hammers on the club’s website: “We are able to fight for the first place but we know that if we lose a bit in quality and that we are gradually slipping we will be out of the race. “

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The 20 clubs in the English championship have confirmed the good performance of Boxing Day despite the resurgence of Covid-19 across the Channel. A maintenance driven by both economic and symbolic considerations.

The Gunners’ next two matches, starting with the move to Red Lantern Norwich, may see them consolidate their place in the Top 4.

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