Chelsea will be two central defenders light this weekend thanks to international duty, with Thiago Silva returning late from Brazil and Antonio Rüdiger picking up an injury with Germany. Fortunately, Romelu Lukaku’s precautionary early dismissal from Belgium has had its desired effect, but we will also be missing Christian Pulisic (still) and probably Hakim Ziyech as well, who may be battling a migraine(?) or some such.
The latter is the only real surprise bit of team news — not that it makes the situation any less frustrating — as confirmed by Thomas Tuchel in this morning’s press conference. We had been hoping that the break would get Chelsea healthier, but that hasn’t really happened.
“Thiago will be back in the afternoon, hopefully safe from his match in Brazil. We had our talk today about Brentford, had our tactical training today, and he missed all that. He played 90 minutes and he has 12 hours of travelling, so that’s the answer maybe about his available. He is not.
“Toni Rüdiger is injured, he came back injured from national team, so not available. Christian Pulisic is still injured and we have doubts with Hakim Ziyech; he missed the last two training sessions with a headache and it seems he won’t be with the squad tomorrow.
“Romelu is fine, doing all the training sessions and doing okay for tomorrow.”
The other major frustration of international breaks, beyond just the added wear and tear on the players, is the interruption to the season itself — repeated three times for a total of six weeks just in the first few months — which requires players to refocus repeatedly. Those first games back are often some of the worst performances, which makes tomorrow’s test against high-flying Brentford all the more challenging (regardless of what the odds may say on paper).
“To recreate the feeling, momentum and energy that every team needs to wins games is the big challenge. It’s always difficult after travelling and games for different teams, in different countries and different styles of play.
“It’s always a challenge to restart the engine and the momentum. We can call it mentality or whatever, it’s not so easy but, on the other hand, we are used to it and it’s good that we are aware things can be difficult.”
Of course, at the end of the day, all the teams challenging for the title face similar issues and considerations, and how we all deal with it will go a long ways towards determining who stands at the top of the pile at the end of the season.
“We have to take all the pressure off our shoulders and take risks in the game, play with a certain freedom because with a fear of losing a status you can win absolutely nothing. That’s why if you sign for Chelsea, if you work for Chelsea, if you play for Chelsea then you play to win. You cannot be surprised if you are the favourites in a game against Brentford, but does this change any expectation? Hopefully not.
“Once we have our expectation right, what we expect from tomorrow’s game, once we have the attitude right, we hopefully get the result right. This is what we are doing and this is where the focus is.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
No excuses; play like a champion!