Chelsea's win against West Ham last Saturday has provided some breathing space in our quest to finish in the Champions League spots, creating a three-point gap between us in fourth and the rest of the chasing pack.
Tomorrow presents another opportunity to tighten our grip on fourth, as we take on 18th-place Fulham at the Bridge. While games at the end of the season can be toughest to navigate, especially against clubs battling relegation, Chelsea do not face any easier opponents than Fulham in this final stretch.
We will have to do so without Mateo Kovačić still, who may have even suffered a setback unfortunately, and also Antonio Rüdiger, though his absence sounds more precautionary than anything.
"Unfortunately he [Kovacic] is still injured.He trained with us but he’s still not fully confident. He felt something at the end of the training so he’s not available.
"Before training today, we thought Kova has a big chance to join us latest for Madrid, maybe even for Fulham, so now we have a little setback with him. I don’t want to be too negative. Let’s see how he feels tomorrow.
"All other players are available except for Toni Rudiger who got injured in the last minute of the Madrid game. I am quite positive for Toni [being available] for Wednesday."
Chelsea's upturn in form since Tuchel's arrival has had a knock on effect on Billy Gilmour's gametime. The gaffer has put all his trust in Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic to carry out the job in the midfield pivot.
While it's totally understandable to not fix something that ain't broke, trusting a natural #6 replacement in Gilmour over playing Mount in an unfamiliar role could be a better fix for when the need to rest overworked players does arrive.Tuchel hints at some gametime for the Scottish midfielder but denies any guarantees as Jorginho and Kante responded positively to their recoveries from their midweek battle in the Champions League.
"It [Gilmour playing] could be, but it’s not decided yet.N’Golo feels very good, Jorgi looked very good in training today, fresh again. The guys are super professional, they know we miss Kova a lot. I have the feeling N’Golo and Jorgi step even up in doing everything to recover as fast as possible.
"They looked very good today in training, I was quite impressed, so the last decision is made today in the evening. Billy is in the squad, he was very close to playing some minutes in the last games, and he is in good shape so he could play."
Chelsea face Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester City and Aston Villa in their last four league fixtures, which makes the game against Fulham the easiest of them all to take maximum points from, at least on paper. Any dropped points tomorrow will make the job tougher and does not bode well for the midweek clash against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League Semifinals, where the squad needs to arrive with maximum confidence.
Tuchel as usual refuses to look any further than than the next game in the table and has the squad totally focussed on Fulham, and Fulham alone. Cent percent effort is what will be expected from the squad tomorrow.
"Fulham is a good chance to keep our advantage in the league, nothing else. It’s a moment to prove to ourselves we can fully focus on one match. There is one match to play tomorrow, nothing else.
"I know very well it’s a match between two semi-finals. That’s not a usual week, and I’m happy because it’s a big thing to play in a semi-final of a Champions League, but it’s a moment to prove to ourselves we are capable of putting all our energy into tomorrow’s game. This starts with me, with the line-up, with the preparation, with the talk and the mindset from the coach.
"We are in the middle of the race and it’s not always super easy to switch between one competition and another, but who cares. Everybody can do easy.It’s our job to switch focus, and my job to find the mix, put the players in the right mindset, and prepare for this match in a way everybody understands its importance.
"We have not worked this hard all these weeks, and during the game against West Ham, to give us this advantage just to let it slip through our hands by not being focused. You can lose any match, this can happen, but us not being focused and prepared cannot happen. This is what I demand from everybody tomorrow. I want us to be fully on and not hold back one percent."
- Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
The message is loud and clear. Win!