Chelsea had been doing pretty well for themselves without having a true centre-forward starting as no.9, before their bitter 1-1 draw to Manchester United last Sunday where Timo Werner was chosen to join the initial eleven. Coincidence? Most likely not, as much as it was a case of the German striker not having proper fitness nor the skillset to be a proper asset to the Blues.
At the same time, Romelu Lukaku should have been an unused substitute during the United game had things gone our way from the start, with Callum Hudson-Odoi unfortunately not doing too well on our best chance in the entire match on minute four of the encounter. With the bout against Watford this Wednesday night to start off the absolutely hectic December schedule in the Premier League and beyond in a little more than 24 hours, and Lukaku returning to fitness, manager Thomas Tuchel says we should expect more minutes given to the big Belgian.
“Romelu is pretty easy. He came on in the last match and he has continued to train with the group.
“He is ready to progress in minutes and this is where he is at right now.”
While Lukaku progresses in fitness, three others have setbacks. Potentially joining the trio of players still in recovery from injuries in Ben Chilwell, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kanté, are the trio of Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner — whose availability will be decided in the last minute.
“For the game tomorrow at Watford, for sure we will be without Chilly, Kova and N’Golo who are all out and then we have some doubts over some other players that we need a bit more time on, to do some examinations on before deciding whether they can be involved.
“Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner we will have to wait and then decide on. They all finished training with us today but there will be some last-minute decisions on those players for sure.”
December is almost never a good time for most teams in England. At least we (sort of) have a winter break!
This is also the month that make or break title challengers, and eventual title winners. With Chelsea still topping the Premier League table, but only one point ahead of Manchester City, we will need to be at our very best to keep up the position and this slim advantage over Pep Guardiola’s side.
“It will be challenging but it has been challenging before. [But] we won’t change our routine.
“We have a tight communication with the medical and fitness department and we tried to predict the load, look at who is overloaded and underloaded, and from there we see what we will need in the next game.”
This is far from a one-sided effort. Tuchel and Chelsea as an institution demand high dedication from everyone involved, from top to bottom, as the coach will be ready to rotate and use all of his available players if required.
“As you know, we take it step by step. If you look too far ahead you will see there are tough weeks coming. That is why we focus on the details, the next game, maybe on the next two games where we can rely on our predictions because we have fantastic support from everybody.
“It’s on the players to be strong in the games but to take recovery very seriously. We have to be very good in recovery and sleeping, taking the right food and supplements to help us recover.
“Our style is intense and needs to be to have a certain mentality and identity on the pitch. This is what we want. We are not scared to rotate and we will use the whole squad.”
-Thomas Tuchel; Source: Chelsea FC
This should be a great opportunity not just to senior players, but perhaps even a few impressive youngsters to get chances to at least populate our benches given the nine-match run we have this upcoming month. As long as they perform to a level that can give Chelsea wins on the regular, it is all good in our collective books.