Yesterday was a day of recovery at Cobham for those who featured in North London and today the focus is on the Carabao Cup and visiting Aston Villa.
Chelsea haven’t won the competition since 2015 under Jose Mourinho, although he is hardly at the top of the club’s priorities. And the Blues are undoubtedly hoping to win more illustrious trophies this season: the Premier League Champions League and the Club World Cup to start.
However, the Carabao Cup could prove to be extremely important for Thomas Tuchel. This will give him the opportunity to keep his team running, to give minutes to those on the sidelines so that dissatisfaction does not become a problem as the campaign progresses.
Chelsea’s first team squad is not small; within it there are countless full-fledged internationals. It was indicative of the quality available for Tuchel that Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Malang Sarr didn’t even bench as substitutes against Spurs.
The absence of Christian Pulisic in the past month, due to a positive test for Covid-19 and then an ankle injury, was also not felt, such is the wealth of offensive talent in situ at Stamford Bridge.
The American star is not due to return tomorrow night, at least according to Tuchel when he addressed the media after Chelsea’s victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium: “The game against Aston Villa may be too close, I hope to trick. It’s my impression with him not in training yet. To see tomorrow.
“Maybe he had a good progression today. Maybe it is possible. It would be super nice to have it but it’s doubtful. “
Still, there will be several other stars hoping to get started when Dean Smith brings his Villa side to West London. Here we pick seven who will want to step onto the Stamford Bridge pitch to impress Tuchel and potentially earn a place in the starting XI in the weeks to come.
The past few months have not been easy for the 24-year-old. He didn’t play for England in the European Championship – one of only three outfielders who didn’t get minutes – and on his late return to the pre-season he found his place in Marcos Alonso’s team.
“We had discussions with Chilly about her situation,” Tuchel explained last week. “He knows I would have done the same if it had been the other way around, trust him if he was there and he showed that kind of personality and attitude like Marcos did.
“They are pushing each other and there is no more worries for Chilly. He needs to be a little patient and keep training. It took a while, we had to give him a little time to be a little more patient with himself, to find the joy and find things a little easier on the pitch, not wanting to force
“This is where we are now. Unfortunately we’ve only had three substitutes in the last few Premier League games otherwise we would have played him for a few minutes, but he’s in the race now. The situation has changed for him, he is in good shape with his attitude and on the pitch so that he can play at any time. “
Through no fault of his own, Chilwell has spent more than three months without making an appearance in competition for club or country. It at least ended against Zenit last week, but he hopes to start tomorrow night’s clash and start challenging Alonso for the left-winger role.
Signed on a one-season loan on Atletico Madrid transfer deadline day, Saul was thrown straight to the Chelsea side when Aston Villa visited Stamford Bridge in the Premier League 11 days ago. It didn’t go well for the Spaniard.
Saul was unaware of the frenetic nature of the Premier League. He was constantly dispossessed and Chelsea were fortunate not to give in to the many turnovers. It’s no surprise that Tuchel took Saul out at half-time in the game.
“I only had one training session so it was difficult for me,” Saul told Fabrizio Romano in a Twitch interview. “The language, the stadium, everything is new to me.
“A lot of information and that’s what everyone saw in the game, I was lost and I didn’t know where I was. It was difficult, but the way Tuchel approached me after the game, it made me feel better and it was really appreciated.
The 26-year-old hasn’t appeared in both games since, but he is likely to get another attempt to show his quality tomorrow night. And poetically enough it will be against Villa again.
Talk to anyone who has witnessed Loftus-Cheek’s work during the preseason and the answer will almost certainly be the same – he looked sharp, maybe even returned to his best. It did not, however, result in a resurgence at Chelsea for the academy graduate.
Loftus-Cheek has been a regular in the Blues’ pre-season friendlies and was involved in the squad of the day for the UEFA Super Cup victory over Villarreal. Unfortunately, after the match in Belfast, he tested positive for Covid-19 and was forced into a 10-day self-isolation period.
When he was allowed to resume training, he found himself well below the hierarchy. And if the right offer had been made for his services in the final days of the transfer window, it’s likely the 25-year-old would have left.
Loftus-Cheek has remained in Chelsea but is very much on the outskirts. He made a short appearance against Zenit last week, but was never going to make an impact in seconds. A start against Villa is certainly not out of the question, however, and if it does, the challenge will be for the midfielder to step up.
The last 72 hours of the transfer window have been hectic for Hudson-Odoi. On the sidelines under Tuchel, interest in the services of the 20-year-old has intensified. Several Premier League sides have touched base with Chelsea, but the most realistic offer has come from Borussia Dortmund.
A direct loan deal for the remainder of the campaign has been put on the table. For Hudson-Odoi, this seemed like the perfect fit. He could get regular minutes in his favorite role left of the top three. It suited everyone… except Tuchel.
The German did not want to lose a player from his team without having the opportunity to bring in a replacement. The decision was therefore taken to keep Hudson-Odoi at Stamford Bridge.
The academy graduate started against Aston Villa immediately after the transfer window, but at right-back. Hudson-Odoi has not made both appearances since, but hopes to play a role in the attack against Villa tomorrow night.
The German striker was one of the few unbeatable under Frank Lampard and Tuchel last season; only Mason Mount and Antonio Rudiger played more minutes in all competitions than Werner.
He started Chelsea’s first two games of the season – the UEFA Super Cup and the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace – but in the next game against Arsenal Romelu Lukaku was available to make his debut and the Belgian went on to make his debut. been thrown directly to the side.
Werner has since been stranded on the substitutes bench and although there were brief appearances in the later stages of the matches, his importance to the Chelsea side has waned.
The 25-year-old will look to change that against Villa as it could prove to be one of the few occasions where Lukaku is entitled to a break in Chelsea’s starting XI.
And if he is given the responsibility of leading the attack, Werner will need to be a lot more clinical than he has been in the past year or so.