Chelsea return to action tomorrow for the first time in two weeks, after a winter break that was used to refresh tried legs and tired minds. The players were given one week off to rest and recover, with this second week spent on the training ground working on tactical and fitness issues — a rare opportunity for such things indeed in the middle of a busy season.
However, both Christian Pulisic and Thiago Silva were away on national team duty and are just coming back, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek has managed to pick up a knock, which has ruled him out alongside long-term injury victims Reece James and Ben Chilwell.
“Not Reece James and Ben Chilwell, unfortunately, and not Ruben Loftus-Cheek. They are still injured, everybody else was in training except Christian Pulisic and Thiago Silva. Everybody else was there, we’ve had a good training week.
“It’s very rare we have four training sessions to prepare a match. So it was very nice to freshen up some tactical elements and have a physical input that was more than normal.”
There were some (as it turn outs, unsurprisingly rather) hopeful reports of Reece James possibly returning from his hamstring tear for this game, or perhaps our trip to the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, but with Chelsea leaving after tomorrow’s game, he’s not going to be able to partake having suffered a slight setback over the break.
“He’s not at team training yet so I think that answers the question. I think after these two weeks, he needs some time in team training to get the rhythm back and the confidence back before we can think about letting him play. He does not travel with us tomorrow to Abu Dhabi because he isn’t part of team training.”
“[It] was a big injury [and] from there you have to be patient. It is hamstring injury. It is always a tricky one and he is a very physical player and he unfortunately caught the flu and this was like a setback in the last week. He lost days in his process coming back into the team. It was a bit of setback for him.
“But we are patient. We want to have him tomorrow on the pitch, but it is not happening at the moment and we have to be patient. I know that Reece works hard and he is in best hands.”
While the focus may be mostly on the Club World Cup already, we must not forget to actually win tomorrow’s match against the visitors from the third division. The only magic happening should be the one given by magician David Redfearn to Tuchel and the rest of the staff earlier this week.
“We better be realistic about it that we are the favourites and what we demand of ourselves in this match. At the same time, we respect the game and anything can happen. [So] we need to prove it.”
“[We] could easily say that it is the best day in [Plymouth players’] career but we want to turn it into one of the worst days of their career because we want to beat them. We want to make things clear that we are still the better team and side.
“We don’t want them to have the best time of their life or a very good experience at Stamford Bridge. How do we do this? We respect the team, treat them well and have a strong team on the pitch tomorrow to make it to the next round.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Give ‘em hell!