Temperatures are expected to remain above 90°F (32°C) this weekend, with some parts of England and Wales possibly hitting triple digits, and Chelsea kicking off right around the hottest part of the day, 4:30pm local time on Sunday afternoon at Stamford Bridge. (These temperatures may not sound too extreme for you, depending on your local weather, but for England and much of Europe, they’re nigh apocalyptic especially when accompanied by extreme drought as it is in many places.)
Thomas Tuchel wasn’t sure if a cooling break will be allowed, but has acknowledged that the heat has affected training and preparations already.
“It’s quite demanding. It was quite demanding today in training. There was a huge difference today and yesterday, and it will increase. Tomorrow, we will adapt our training session time to early morning, but in a stadium, it can feel even worse [...] hopefully, there will be a pause for drinking. We have some patterns implemented already to cool the body temperature down to improve the situation as much as possible, but it will be draining.”
“[The heat] is more demanding, as we see clearly from the data. The same training exercise in different conditions has a very different output and an effect on how you feel. It is maybe also a matter of how much you want it and accept it because it will feel at times very difficult and draining. It is also a question of who has the ability, the will to play through the pain. I’m not there yet that it influences my starting XI from the weather forecast, but we accept the fact that this kind of heat has a physical effect on the players, of course.”
One factor that will definitely influence the starting XI is a lingering injury to Mateo Kovačić, while Marcos Alonso continues to wait patiently for Barcelona to get their act together and is thus unavailable for selection.
“[Alonso] is not in training at the moment and trying to finalise his transfer, so he will not be available for the game. It’s the same for Kova, who is injured. He has issues with his knee, always a little bit of a reaction. We decided to take a step back and increase treatment time to reduce the stress that comes from training to have a normal reaction before we start again. Everybody else is available.”
Alonso’s absence will be keenly felt: he’s had more direct goal contributions against Spurs (3g+3a) than any other team in his career. Whether it’s Marc Cucurella or Ben Chilwell who steps into that role, they’ve got big shoes to fill.
And Spurs themselves will come in with rising confidence, despite losing a lot to Chelsea last season. Antonio Conte has them running like a well-oiled machine — and also just running, literally — and Tuchel’s wary of the additional heat they will bring to the Bridge.
“[We] have to be very disciplined in certain regions of the game. They stepped the level up in their game. They play in the same structure so far and have a pattern in offensive pressing and in their attitude to defending. This changes a lot.
“It’s very important we are good on the ball. It’s very important we are the dominant team. Hopefully, we put the game in the opponent’s half and control their counter-attacks before everybody else sees them. Hopefully, we don’t talk about counter-attacking because they are maybe one of the best teams in the world in counter-attacks and these movements.
“We did fantastic jobs in closing it down [last season]. The players were unbelievably disciplined and aware of the situation. That’s why we can never lose the structure and never lose our heads while we are attacking. This is the moment, I believe, to stop the counter-attacks. When they start already, you are already in big trouble given the quality, speed and determination of Tottenham, so we need to be smart and stop the counter-attacks before they start...”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
We may not be able to control the weather, but hopefully we can cool off Conte’s budding blazing inferno.
P.S.: The title, my fellow kids, is a reference to an ancient ‘90s sitcom called Seinfeld, and one of my favorite sequences/episodes.