Chelsea 3-1 Southampton: Picture highlights
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The signing of Romelu Lukaku has solved plenty of Chelsea’s issues and they look a complete outfit with him leading the line. The Belgian has scored three goals in six appearances as the Blues sit top of the Premier League table heading into the international break, winning five games, drawing one and losing one.
However, Thomas Tuchel’s side may have to dig in more than ever when they return for their game on the 16th of October against Brentford as they will be missing several key players.
The German manager has revealed that he will be without central defender Thiago Silva, who has been called up to the Brazil squad, for the trip to the Brentford Community Stadium, as well as a few more important first-teamers.
Speaking about Silva’s absence to the club’s official website, Tuchel said: “He will go and then he will play for Brazil, and then he will come back on the matchday versus Brentford. This is the life of international breaks in 2021. Like it or not, what can I do?
“He’s our player and he arrives on the matchday back from a country where he then needs to do quarantine. Is this a good solution for us as a club? No, but we cannot hold him back. It’s impossible.
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“If they call him, he needs to go, otherwise he gets suspended by FIFA. So there is no choice. You simply have to live with it.”
Academy product Trevoh Chalobah is the most likely candidate to replace the 37-year-old in Chelsea’s back three seeing as he started in the most recent league game against Southampton instead of Andreas Christensen.
Aside from Silva, Tuchel will have Antonio Rudiger, Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, Malang Sarr and Chalobah to pick his defence from.
Chalobah has impressed since stepping into the first-team setup this season, scoring twice and being solid defensively. His history of being a holding midfielder has also given Tuchel another asset in defence as the 22-year-old is great with the ball at his feet and can progress the ball from deep well.
Fellow Englishman Reece James is also expected to remain sidelined after picking up in the defeat to Manchester City a few weeks ago.
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The right-back was called up to Gareth Southgate’s England team for the fixtures against Andorra, but Tuchel has admitted there has been a misunderstanding between club and country as James is in no condition to play.
“When I saw it (the call up) I thought that maybe Reece goes with the water polo team with England because right now he trains in the pool. I was quite surprised he was selected for the England football team. This will not happen as he is training in the pool right now.
“My understanding from the last information is that he cannot go. It must be a misunderstanding, nothing else.”
Captain Azpilicueta is likely to replace James in right-wing back until he returns unless Tuchel opts for Callum Hudson-Odoi instead for a more attacking-minded player in that role.
Having tested positive for Covid at the end of September, presumably N’Golo Kante will return to the squad after the international break and be available, though Tuchel has not confirmed that yet.
If Kante is back in the frame then he will be competing with Jorginho, who was rested against the Saint, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and on-loan Saul Niguez for a starting spot.
Ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss has said that winger Christian Pulisic is returning from injury slowly but surely. The American sustained an ankle injury in the last international break and has been recovering since.
This should mean that Mason Mount will return to the starting eleven after the international break, though Kai Havertz, Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner are also playing in that right-sided inside-forward role.
“There is still a lot of pain that he has to get used to and it’s too much to start training with us, so he’s still in individual rehabilitation.”
Pulisic has not featured for the Blues since mid-August, though he was never truly one of the first names on the teamsheet due to the overwhelming depth the Blues have in the final third.
It remains to be seen whether Chelsea’s injury list grows over the next few weeks, with plenty of players away on international duty. But the Stamford Bridge outfit have a strong, capable squad that has enough talent to deal with most absences.
Tuchel’s most likely lineup for the clash with Brentford: Mendy, Chalobah, Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Jorginho, Kovacic, Werner, Mount, Lukaku
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