Liverpool vs Chelsea: Thomas Tuchel says Jurgen Klopp's side still one of Europe's elite despite home slump

Liverpool have not won at Anfield in 2021 and have dropped to sixth in the Premier League; Jurgen Klopp's side two points off top four and one point behind Chelsea; Watch Liverpool vs Chelsea on Thursday, live on Sky Sports from 8pm; kick-off 8:15pm

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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel will square off against Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp for the first time in the Premier League on Thursday - but he is well aware of his fellow German's qualities

Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea will be taking on one of Europe's elite sides when they visit Anfield on Thursday, despite Liverpool's dreadful recent home form.

The Premier League champions have not won at Anfield in any competitions since beating Tottenham on December 16 and are on a run of four successive home defeats.

It has been a remarkable decline for Jurgen Klopp's side, who were on a 68-game unbeaten home run - stretching back to April 2017 - until their 1-0 defeat to Burnley in January sparked their current losing streak.

Liverpool's Sadio Mane is congratulated by Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Image: Sadio Mane scored as Liverpool won 2-0 away to Chelsea in September

Liverpool look set to hand their title back to Manchester City, who lead the table by 15 points, but Tuchel believes those two sides remain the "benchmark" that his side must strive to meet.

Ahead of Thursday's meeting at Anfield, live on Sky Sports, Tuchel said: "For me, those two teams are still the benchmark. We want to close the gap and the gap is not too big that we cannot close it in weeks and months. This is the target.

"We have always a chance to win any game because we have self-confidence, we have everything we need to win against everybody and be a tough opponent.

"At the same time, you can always lose games in the Premier League because it's one of the toughest competitions you can face.

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"I'm pretty sure that Liverpool miss their fans. I know from experience what impact the crowd at Anfield can have on their team.

Tuchel succeeded Jurgen Klopp at Mainz before also taking over from him at Dortmund following his resignation in 2015
Image: Tuchel succeeded Jurgen Klopp at Mainz before also taking over from him at Borussia Dortmund following his resignation in 2015

"They dropped points, sometimes deserved but many times not deserved, and there was also a streak of very unlucky results.

"It is one of the strongest teams in Europe. One of the best managers in Europe, but we are confident enough."

Chelsea's game at Anfield is a key game in the race for the Premier League top four, with fifth-placed Chelsea currently one point outside those places - one point and one place ahead of Liverpool.

But while Tuchel is keen to maintain - and even extend - his side's lead over Liverpool, he does not believe a defeat would be devastating for their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

"We know we have 12 matches to go, so no matter what result we get out of tomorrow, it will not be the end of the race for the top four," said Tuchel. "But it is of big importance.

"I hope we can show up with the same attitude like we faced all the tough challenges so far. This race will go, in my opinion, until the end of the 12 games we have to play. But tomorrow is a very important fixture."

Tuchel: Abraham has been unlucky

Tuchel raised eyebrows with his decision to leave Tammy Abraham out of his squad for Chelsea's game against fellow top-four rivals Manchester United last Sunday.

Tammy Abraham celebrates with Reece James and Billy Gilmour after scoring against Barnsley
Image: Tammy Abraham celebrates with Reece James and Billy Gilmour after scoring against Barnsley

That decision was made despite the England striker being the Blues' top scorer this season with 12 goals, and Tuchel believes Abraham has been "unlucky" in recent times.

"I think so, and it is my job to push him to his limits," said Tuchel when asked if Abraham could work his way back into his plans. "We will not stop doing this and supporting him.

"It was a tough decision but with everybody coming back now and hopefully nobody injured, we have these decisions to make. This is part of my job which I do not like, but at the same time, I like it because it means we have everybody available.

"In this case, it was not a signal or punishment, it was just a choice for alternatives. He lacks a little bit of luck, Tammy, not only in the games but also in training. Once the last touch comes back and he's fighting hard, he will stay."

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