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Ziyech out, Kanté doubtful as Tuchel looks forward to Premier League title challenge

Team news from the boss ahead of Crystal Palace

Chelsea Training and Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea kicked off the new season by defeating Villarreal on penalties to lift the UEFA Super Cup. After that one-off success, we now have to do the same with the new 2021-22 Premier League season, as we take on a revamped Crystal Palace side at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.

The Blues will be without Hakim Ziyech for the opener however and for the next couple weeks probably, thanks to his shoulder injury, while N’Golo Kanté is also doubtful thanks to his physical exertions in the Super Cup following a shorter preseason.

"Hakim will miss the game for sure because of his injury. The decision is made, it will be treated conservatively. In the moment the situation is like this that we don’t need the surgery, which is very, very good news for this kind of problem. We hope it continues like this and he can be back on the pitch in the next two weeks. We cannot promise but this is what we hope.

"We have some issues with N’Golo Kante, we need to sort it out, from the game. It is from the final.

“Physically it was the worst thing that could happen to us in the stages we are in right now, to play 120 minutes. Mentally and psychologically it was the best thing because to win on penalties gives you an enormous boost and this is a huge boost of positive energy and feelings."

That mental and psychological boost, combined with improvements in the squad should propel Chelsea to a stronger title challenge than last season. In fact, Lukaku’s arrival has made Chelsea the favourites for many, even (though Lukaku will not feature in this game just yet).

Tuchel obviously isn’t worried about what pundits and the media might think about our chances. He’s only worried about closing the proverbial gap, especially with none of our rivals resting on their laurels, especially the two Manchester clubs who strengthened with big-money signings as well.

At the same time, he’s not shying away from said challenge, ready to lead and inspire Chelsea to the title we haven’t won since 2017.

"Everybody who can read can see we came fourth and we needed some help on the last matchday to arrive in fourth place to make it a successful season.

"When you come fourth, you are not favourite the next season. We have some gaps to close, we let Liverpool pass us in the last match and we have a big gap to close to Manchester United and Manchester City.

"I see the transfer market from City and United so I don't see any reasons why they should be any worse than last season. They improved their squad, they are stable and very very strong teams. No, we are hungry and the challengers for top four first of all and after that we want to challenge everyone for the best possible outcome.

"We are not scared to fight for every title that we compete in, including the cups, Champions League and Premier League. It is not worth breaking our heads about being favourites or not. It is the process that counts and being on our best every single day to be in some part of the game on the same level and improve other parts of our game, do this day in, day out and be ready to compete. We know very well that you need luck and momentum and then we will see."

- Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London

Let's start the season on a positive note then!