It's advantage Man City at the end of 2021 - but where do Chelsea and Liverpool stand after the recent round of Premier League games? In a pivotal midweek, which saw Liverpool lose at Leicester and Chelsea pegged back by a last-minute equaliser by Brighton, Manchester City pulled eight points clear at the top of the table with a 1-0 win at Brentford.
Thomas Tuchel’s ridiculous finals record extends as he reaches six straight showpiece
Since arriving at Chelsea a little under 12 months ago, the German tactician has reached three cup finals - four if you include the UEFA Super Cup - which is a phenomenal achievement.
If you go back as far as his stint with Paris St Germain, Tuchel has reached six finals in a row which is even more phenomenal.
At Chelsea, Tuchel has taken the Blues to the Champions League final, which he won, the FA Cup final, which he lost, and now the Carabao Cup final on February 27 when his side will play either Liverpool or Arsenal.
He will have some demons to perhaps exorcise at the National Stadium late next month after his last visit to Wembley ended in a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Leicester City ten days before their Champions League success.
Chelsea cruises through to the League Cup final in midweek after their 1-0 win in north London, given to them by the back of Antonio Rudiger after Pierluigi Gollini made a complete mess of punching clear a Mason Mount corner.
The Spurs keeper, surprisingly selected ahead of club captain Hugo Lloris by Antonio Conte, completely missed the ball and while Rudiger didn’t know much about it, he scored for a second time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this season having also netted in the Premier League game.
The first half resemble a training session at times as Chelsea toyed with Spurs, the imperious Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho completely dictating things to their own rhythm and Spurs were chasing shadows.
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The second half was at least a bit more competitive, though how Andre Marriner awarded a penalty for Kepa’s fair challenge on Lucas Moura - rightly overruled by VAR - only he knows.
Harry Kane had a goal disallowed for what is a very rarely used and obscure rule but a rule nonetheless after Moura had rounded Kepa and passed to Kane, who only had Rudiger on the line in between him and scoring, which he did but it didn’t count.
Tuchel was pleased post match but not entirely. He said: “I think we started well, created chances, scored and then had even more confidence. We played a very good 30/35 minutes.
"We lost a bit of control, focus, some important duels and were lucky that suddenly we didn't concede. We were a bit sloppy and weren't fully aware of the danger. I had the feeling on the touchline we were playing with fire.
"Second half again, strong start for 15 minutes but again the same story. We conceded a penalty that wasn't a penalty or a big chance. We struggled to cope with the momentum.
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"We had many ball losses, lost many challenges one-on-one. So big space to improve, it wasn't a super bad game, but it was an ok game and there were some moments and minutes there were good. But there are some that need huge improvement.
"We have to do better but performance-wise over the two matches, we deserved to win. For today, there is a lot to improve."
Ever the perfectionist, Tuchel will be expecting better from his players at the Etihad on Saturday for the weekend’s blockbuster Premier League clash when top takes on second in east Manchester.
Malang Sarr impressive but Chelsea still need a new left back
Malang Sarr has reportedly shunned interest from abroad in a loan deal this month as he is getting a regular run of games at Chelsea.
He put in perhaps his best of the lot so far in the Blues' 1-0 win over Spurs on Wednesday that saw them secure a spot in the Carabao Cup final.
After a nervy start where he misplaced a couple of passes under intense pressure from Harry Kane, he eased into the game and by the end of the 90 minutes was arguably Chelsea's best player on the night.
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Playing in an unfamiliar left back role, which was more of a wing-back role when Chelsea had possession, Sarr excelled. He was strong in the tackle and gave Lucas Moura and Emerson Royal down his flank little to no joy whatsoever throughout the game.
Royal couldn't get to the byline past Sarr, who also had an entertaining tussle with Giovani Lo Celso in the early stages as the Argentine tried to rattle the Frenchman.
Sarr responded by riling up the home fans, booting the ball into the stands when he had won a corner which led to Lo Celso chasing after Sarr to have a polite word - Sarr laughed in his face.
You get the sense that not a lot fazes Sarr, who Chelsea plucked on a free transfer from Nice ahead of the 2020/21 season and sent him on-loan to Porto, though that didn't pan out as well as either party would have hoped.
But with a full pre-season under his belt with Thomas Tuchel, who is clearly a pretty good judge of a player, he has stuck around. The Blues playing in plenty of cup competitions of course helps as it means Sarr can get games but he has also stepped into the breach in the top flight.
He was part of a patched-up backline that somehow managed to not concede in a 1-0 win over Brentford last year despite the home side firing 11 shots on goal in the final 15 minutes of the game in a real backs to the wall win for Chelsea.
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Tuchel was effusive in his praise of Sarr post-match but stopped short of saying if Sarr had solved him a January transfer window dilemma.
"We did not play wing-backs but for me, he can play a full back in the position like today," Tuchel said.
"He can play centre-back and in the left position of a back three. That’s where he is at the moment, he deserves to play.
"He has played well when he was needed. I think he is very aware of his role, this is where he started and from there he takes what he can get. He needs to work hard, stay humble.
"Nothing more. There is no need for further promotion, he is doing good, he is solid and he is consistent and that is what we need."
Not that it stopped Tuchel from losing his rag with the defender after playing a poor pass inside which was cut out easily. Tuchel turned around to his dugout, as he often does, in disgust and chuntered away to himself and to his coaching staff.
Tuchel is in the market for a left sided defender this month, with the club still trying to get Emerson back from his loan spell at Lyon which is Tuchel's preferred choice following Ben Chilwell's season-ending knee injury.
Kenedy has also been recalled from his loan spell at Flamengo in Brazil but he is expected to be loaned out again in order to get more regular game time.
Sarr has shown that he can fill in when Tuchel needs him to but it might not be such a regular thing going forward from now on. But don't rule him out of starting in the final next month.