Chelsea kick off their Premier League campaign in exactly a month’s time when they host Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge to get their 2021/22 season underway.
A near capacity crowd is expected for the pre-season friendly against Spurs on August 4 and there is hope that will be the case again for the top flight opener with Covid-19 restrictions set to be eased on July 19.
The Blues will have their first pre-season friendly on Saturday when they play host to Peterborough United at Cobham, the Posh providing the opposition after their promotion to the Championship last season.
That match will be behind closed doors so we may have to wait a bit longer until Chelsea’s trip to Ireland for a training camp before we can see the players in action for the first time following their Champions League triumph back in May.
Things have been slow on the transfer front for the Blues since the window opened with outgoings dominating proceedings. Fikayo Tomori has departed the club for AC Milan in a £25million switch while Olivier Giroud is expected to follow suit before the end of this week.
Links to Erling Haaland won’t go away for Chelsea this summer either with Tuchel keen to bolster his striking options, particularly as doubts are surrounding the future of Tammy Abraham at the club still.
So, with one month to go and the first pre-season friendly on the horizon for Tuchel and his players this weekend, what are the big questions that the head coach needs to find answers for over the next four weeks?
Will the Blues head coach stick with the back five that brought him huge success last season? Or will Tuchel perhaps revert to a back four to allow him to get another midfielder into his starting eleven?
All signs point to the back five remaining considering how well it fared in the first six months of his reign but with a lot of those players who formed it not expected to return until a fortnight before the season starts following their international exertions this summer, Tuchel won’t have a lot of time to get them back into the swing of things.
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho will be his first choice midfielders and, as was the case for much of the first six months, he will have headaches over his front three. Kai Havertz looks likely to be the focal point of the attack but Tuchel has plenty of options to support him alongside Mason Mount, who is a guaranteed starter.
The loan players who could step up
The first pre-season will give the chance to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Davide Zappacosta, Ross Barkley, Conor Gallagher and others to impress Tuchel.
The head coach has effectively given everyone a clean slate at the club and he wants to run the rule over them all before deciding if they have a future with him at the helm.
Football.London revealed that Gallagher wants to impress but would be willing to head out on loan again should his pathway be blocked.
For Barkley and Loftus-Cheek, it could be a make or break summer for them and their careers in blue, which have stalled over the past couple of seasons through a combination of injury and underwhelming loan spells away from west London.
Who makes up the front three?
Havertz enjoyed a fine end to last season after Tuchel deployed him as false nine, scoring the winner in the Champions League final and continuing his excellent form in a poor Germany side that was dumped out of EURO 2020 in the last 16 by England.
Mount is likely to play in his more advanced role that we have seen him play for the Blues but there is another space up for grabs on the opposite flank.
Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are battling for one spot in the starting lineup for the Palace match.
Good luck picking between them, Tuchel.
Who partners Antonio Rudiger?
It would be a huge surprise if the German didn’t start the opening game of the season but whoever plays alongside him is up in the air.
It seems unlikely that Cesar Azpilicueta would miss out after his terrific second half of last season which ended with him lifting the Champions League trophy. The Spanish defender made it to the semi finals with his country at the Euros and will need recovery time having been a near ever-present since Tuchel arrived.
Andreas Christensen has a strong Euros as Denmark also reached the semi final. Thiago Silva made the final of the Copa America with Brazil which ended in defeat to Argentina and Lionel Messi.
Marc Guehi is back at Chelsea for pre-season, as is Malang Sarr. Those two are perhaps the outsiders for a starting spot. Kurt Zouma will be returning soon as well.
Christensen may well be the frontrunner as it stands…but only just.
Source by Football London