Just a few days ago, Thomas Tuchel scoffed at the notion of Chelsea needing or wanting to sign more midfielders. Now, ahead of tomorrow night’s game in Southampton, the Chelsea head coach is facing a selection headache at the position.
N’Golo Kanté is injured and out for at least the next month. Mateo Kovačić is not ready for more than substitute minutes yet. Conor Gallagher is suspended. Jorginho has played nearly every minute of the campaign so far, as has Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Mason Mount could play a third midfielder, but the system would need to change.
Is it Carney Chukwuemeka time? It might be!
“It’s normally the area I would love to have a headache about who plays and who is on the bench. This is normally the area where I thought we would have five players that could all play for us and have Carney on top as an option as a young player.
“The headache before the season was whether we had too many players there, but it comes to the fifth game, and maybe we only have two left with experience in this position and Kova from the bench because he is not ready to play full matches at Premier League level as he only had a week after training after his injury.
“It’s a strange situation and a situation we don’t like. [We] will have something to think about [over the team selection], or maybe not because it’s so obvious who we have left.”
It’s an especially important dilemma ahead of facing yet another high-pressing, high-intensity team like Southampton. As we saw against Leeds, sometimes it’s not about quality or skill level, but about mistakes and effort.
“What you can always expect in Southampton is a physical game, a running game, a high-intensity game. This is what it is. We need to recover well and be well prepared to repeat what we did last season.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
We won this fixture 6-0 last season, with a midfield of Kanté and Kovačić. Any win will do this time around.