Fresh off an emphatic statement win against Atlético Madrid to enter the Champions League Quarterfinals, Chelsea turn their heads towards another quarterfinal — this time in the FA Cup against Sheffield United this Sunday.
Chelsea's big squad gives manager Thomas Tuchel quite a few options to rotate, something that is especially needed after a tough physical game against Atlético. Thankfully the Blues went through the Champions League round of 16 without midfielders Mason Mount and Jorginho on the pitch in the second leg due to their suspensions, meaning they are now fresh to feature against Sheffield.
Meanwhile, centre-back Thiago Silva has once again been ruled out in order to not risk his muscles before the international break, while striker Tammy Abraham is doubtful after once again twisting his ankle in training.
"Now is not the moment to take the risk with Thiago. It is the last game before the international break and he wasn’t on the pitch today, but he is working hard and hopefully he can rejoin the group during the international break.
"It’s already too long [for him to be out] but I know how hard he and the medical team is working, and we have zero complaints. We are taking our time with him because we want him to feel 100 per cent ready and 100 per cent free from the injury.
"Tammy was with the group today and we hope he will be available for Sunday. We had a scary moment when he stumbled and twisted his ankle but it seems not too serious. He was in a lot of pain at the time but he feels ok now and I hope he can be in the squad for Sunday."
Tammy's doubtful status gives Tuchel a chance to start veteran centre-forward Olivier Giroud, who's been relegated behind Kai Havertz as the starting no.9 in recent weeks. The German boss explains his decision behind Giroud's extended bench period, which is an amalgamation of the type of opponents we faced in recent times as well as the characteristics required to maintain the attacking balance.
Nevertheless, Giroud's utility has not been forgotten by the coach and Tuchel hopes to reward his work ethic in training with more game time in the coming weeks.
"I think Oli can have a huge impact on our team because he has the experience, the physical presence and the ruthlessness in the box. This is his style of football and he has been very successful for many years.
"He has suffered in the last four games or so and I’m not sure I can be totally happy with my team management in the games against Southampton and Leeds. I felt that perhaps these were matches he could have featured for 20 or 25 minutes.
"So it's my fault. He is training really well, he made a decisive goal against Atlético and I assumed the games against Everton and Liverpool would be high intensity games where we could use more speed.
"It is my job to push him and give him the feeling that he is still important and important for me, which he is. So the game on Sunday is important. The international break is good for Oli to keep his head in the clouds and enjoy this moment with us."
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
A gateway to the FA Cup semifinal awaits, and Chelsea must make sure to avoid any upset on the cards.
Let’s do this!