The games keep coming thick and fast for Thomas Tuchel and his Chelsea side as they have tightened their grip on a top four finish in the Premier League.
Victory over Manchester City on Saturday lifted the Blues up to third in the table, taking advantage of Leicester City’s slip up against Newcastle, to put themselves in prime position to finish in the Champions League spots.
It has been quite the turnaround for Tuchel since he arrived at Stamford Bridge four months ago to replace Frank Lampard, having lost just twice in 25 games since taking over from the club-record goalscorer at the helm.
The German has not been afraid to use the entire squad he has at his disposal and has been somewhat fortunate that he has only been missing Mateo Kovacic for an extended period of time.
The Croat has missed the last six weeks with a hamstring injury he sustained ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League quarter final second leg against Porto in Seville but could be in line for a return to the matchday squad for the FA Cup final against Leicester City this weekend.
Tuchel will be without Kovacic for the visit of Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday and defender Andreas Christensen is also ruled out after sustaining a tendon injury in the win at City, though the diagnosis is not as bad as initially feared.
The double-header with Leicester could see Christensen return for one of those games but apart from the Dane and Kovacic, Tuchel has a clean bill of health for his squad selection for the London derby tomorrow.
Tuchel is not afraid to rotate his squad and admitted on Tuesday that he does have one eye on the workload of his players heading into three crucial Premier League games as well the FA Cup and Champions League finals before the end of the month.
As always, we ask our reporters Sam Inkersole and Adam Newson to pick the teams they think Tuchel should select for the upcoming game and here is what they think the German tactician should do.
Tuchel is likely to recall Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell on Wednesday having given them the weekend off at the Etihad but I’d still keep Thiago Silva back for the FA Cup final. Kurt Zouma is a more than good enough replacement for the injured Christensen this weekend.
Billy Gilmour has also done enough to stay in the side after his displays in his last two Premier League outings and it could be a good chance to give N’Golo Kante a rest ahead of the FA Cup final. Jorginho should start in that case having been a substitute at the Etihad.
Kai Havertz is pushing for a recall as well and can certainly cause some problems for a very suspect Arsenal defence that will be missing David Luiz on Wednesday night.
The rest of the team picks itself with Edouard Mendy in goal, Reece James at right wing-back, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger joining Zouma in the back three and Ben Chilwell recalled at left wing-back.
Timo Werner has been in good form recently despite his struggles with the offside rule and his pace can seriously expose an Arsenal defence that is there to be got at.
Sam’s team: Mendy; James, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, Chilwell; Jorginho, Gilmour; Mount, Werner, Havertz.
Thomas Tuchel insisted in his pre-match press conference that he wouldn’t select his starting XI against the Gunners with Saturday’s FA Cup final in mind. I’m not entirely sure I believe him.
Chelsea’s squad is so deep that Tuchel can rotate without losing quality. So I do expect we’ll see a few players kept back for the clash against Leicester City at Wembley.
Not in goal, however. Edouard Mendy is in arguably his best form since signing from Rennes last summer. That momentum shouldn’t be disrupted.
The back three should consist of Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, and Antonio Rudiger. Andreas Christensen is ruled out with a tendon problem while I’d give Thiago Silva a few more days to prepare himself for the FA Cup final.
Reece James should again begin at right wing-back following his excellent second-half display against Manchester City on Saturday. Ben Chilwell missed that match but should be fresh and ready to return.
An experiment that worked well at the Etihad was the midfield duo of Jorginho and Billy Gilmour. That pairing played the final 25 minutes and dovetailed effectively. I’d start the duo against Arsenal in an effort to rest N’Golo Kante for Wembley.
Mason Mount had a rare weekend off so is almost certain to return on the right of the attacking three. I’d go with Kai Havertz down the middle as he was an unused substitute on Saturday.
On the left of the attack, I’d go with Callum Hudson-Odoi. The 20-year-old had a decisive impact after coming off the bench against Man City and was given words of encouragement by Tuchel on the field after the 2-1 victory. He is ready for more minutes.
Adam’s team: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Gilmour, Chilwell; Mount, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi
Source by Football London