The December fixtures keep on coming as Chelsea head to the London Stadium to face West Ham in Saturday’s lunchtime kick off.
The Blues have five injured players in Mateo Kovacic, Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante, and plenty of other niggles to take into consideration.
The festive period allows little time for recovery and takes no passengers and Thomas Tuchel will have to manage his squad to continue his Premier League success.
With so many uncertainties, particularly after one of Chelsea’s poorer displays of the season in the win over Watford, Tuchel is left with some problems to solve and questions to answer.
football.london takes a look at a few below:
Chalobah’s exit from the field against Watford compounded Chelsea’s run of injuries that saw the changes made against the Hornets on Wednesday night.
The young defender had to be substituted after moving into midfield and suffering a hamstring injury in the second half.
“The most worried I am is about the injury for Trevoh Chalobah,” said Tuchel. “It’s a big loss from Trev. I’m a bit worried.”
The Blues boss will no doubt clarify the severity of the issue in his press conference on Friday, as Blues supporters wait for updates on the likes of James, who did not make the squad for the trip to Vicarage Road.
Kante’s situation will also be updated, with the French midfielder scheduled to return if Tuchel’s seven-day prediction is to hold true.
Romelu Lukaku ready for a start?
The Belgian forward was able to increase the minutes he played as he completed a 20-minute cameo for the Blues. The 28-year-old managed to occupy the Watford defence and produced one chance which was blocked. The outing comes after Tuchel utilised Lukaku for more time than he’d hoped against Manchester United at the weekend.
The next step logically could be that he is prepared to start a game and perhaps come off early if need be but with the tight turnaround between games, it is difficult to predict.
Kai Havertz performed well against Watford and will no doubt be prepared to fulfil the role again but after Timo Werner was left on the bench following a knock, the numbers able to lead the line for 90 minutes are limited.
Who plays in midfield?
A difficult decision.
Safe to say that the combination of Saul Niguez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek did not work out too well. Following Chalobah’s injury, the latter was pretty much alone in Chelsea’s midfield.
Saul’s halftime substitution would appear to signal he will not be chosen against West Ham, even if Tuchel put it down to his yellow card.
The German coach said: “I don’t know where he goes from this performance but he was on a yellow card so we had two options – take Marcos [Alonso] off who also had a yellow card and try Saul as a wing-back.
“I had this in my mind before the game, if something happened to Marcos. I thought maybe it was not the right match to try things with new positions so it was him to change the shape a little bit and have Thiago [Silva] on the pitch with his organising.
“Having Trevoh [Chalobah] on the six who is more physical – unfortunately Trevoh injured himself and we ended up with Ruben on the single six. It was a tactical decision.”
However, if Saul is discounted from the start, the Blues could be left stretched.
Kante is returning from injury, and Jorginho was clearly deemed not fit despite being on the bench for the Blues on Wednesday night, otherwise he surely would have found his way onto the pitch in a bid to try and improve the team’s performance. Mateo Kovacic remains out.
There are not many candidates who will be fresh to take the reins. Tuchel, nevertheless, will have to find a solution.
Source by Football London