For much of the early part of the campaign, the title race looked set to be a gripping three-way tussle between City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
However, Pep Guardiola’s defending champions have won 11 league games on the bounce to open up a ten-point gap at the top of the division ahead of tomorrow’s lunchtime clash with Chelsea – who were at one stage six points clear themselves – at the Etihad.
And ahead of a game that the Blues must win to maintain their slim hopes of catching City, Tuchel believes his side’s issues with injuries and Covid have been the biggest reason behind their title bid unravelling in December.
The German said: “The biggest difference in our season is they dealt better with injuries and Covid. Maybe it was unlucky or they do it better.
“They have had less injuries to key players, had less players out. They did not suffer Covid like we did.
“This is the huge difference. We had unnecessary draws. If you have a full squad it creates an atmosphere for everybody and pushes everybody to the edge.
“You need that to compete with City. They are the benchmark – the best team in England right now and that is something you have to admit, realistically.”
Danish defender Andreas Christensen has become Chelsea’s latest absentee ahead of the game after testing positive for Covid.
The loss of Christensen underlines Tuchel’s point and is a major setback with Chelsea so stretched defensively.
Defeat would effectively see Chelsea ruled out of the title race in January, which will be a bitter disappointment to Roman Abramovich who expected Tuchel to mount a serious challenge after winning the Champions League last season.
But Tuchel made it clear he believes his team would be genuine challengers if not for the loss of so many key players.
“I’m always in for a good fight,” he said. “Look back to when we had our squad, we were always up for a good fight and always there to push to the limit and ask questions they don’t like to answer. They are very strong, consistent and perform at the highest level.”
Tuchel has won three of his four games against Guardiola since taking over at Chelsea, with his one defeat coming earlier this season.
He admits he made a mistake in that 1-0 loss.
“My approach was wrong tactically,” he said. “Too passive. We could have done better. It was not meant, but it turned out like this.
“Lesson learned. They were too aggressive. We did not have the solution.”