Chelsea are trying to play it as safe and slow with Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic as we reasonably can, confirmed Frank Lampard in today’s pre-match press conference, so neither will feature this weekend, and probably won’t for a couple weeks still after that either. Meanwhile, new goalkeeper Édouard Mendy is still just getting settled in, so we’re not going to rush him.
“[Mendy] has had a long week when he has not really trained, he flew in yesterday and it feels too tight a turnaround to put him in contention to start the game.
“Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are not ready for the squad tomorrow, but they are both training with us now which is good news, and we hope to have them in proper match contention over the next week or two.”
Lampard tends to be overly optimistic in his injury updates and assessments, so when he says a week or two, it’s probably the latter, if not more.
That said, the caution is certainly well warranted. Pulisic has had a series of (minor) injuries dating back to his last season with Borussia Dortmund, while Ziyech’s season at Ajax ended with him battling a couple minor issues as well. As with N’Golo Kanté, taking the time to make sure they are indeed fully fit is key.
“There is always a concern about player fitness when their history shows there has been injuries, and you try to find the right way and right balance to get the best out of Christian, which we saw in big periods last year. You make sure you don’t over-cook him and leave him susceptible to injury, and particularly with a player of his explosive pace and balance that is a fine line.
“We are working on that and Christian is very open to that. He wants to play, he is so hungry and he is very nearly fit now but it is certainly something we will have to manage this season. We have all seen the talent and it is something I want to get right. I am not saying it is a fundamental, chronic issue, it is not, but we want as many minutes of the great Christian we saw last season on the pitch.”
In better news, both Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell came through their 60 and 30-minute stints, respectively, against Barnsley on Wednesday, and we might even see Silva get the nod again tomorrow.
“Having come through the game the other day as they did, particularly Thiago who did start that game and has 60 minutes in the tank, that was good to see. With Ben I will maybe be a little more cautious just to make sure. His injury had been quite a challenging one and I will make those calls, but they are in a good place at the moment.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
It’s a long season; it’s good to be cautious.