N’Golo Kante is ruled out but Jorginho is in line to return to the starting XI when Chelsea face Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea will begin the defence of their UEFA Champions League crown this Tuesday night when they lock horns with Zenit St Petersburg at Stamford Bridge in Group H.
Heading into the game, Thomas Tuchel has a couple of injury concerns as midfield mainstay N’Golo Kante is still not ready to return to action after picking up a knock against Liverpool. Christian Pulisic, meanwhile, also remains unavailable after returning with an injury from the international break with the USMNT.
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Speaking of the injured duo in his pre-match press conference, Tuchel said: “Christian did not train with us today. We said that we were looking for him to return after the international break and for him to have that period of 10 days of training and recovery before returning to the pitch. He’s still in a state of recovery and individual training, so he is not ready just yet.
“N’Golo had two training sessions yesterday and trained again today, but the Champions League game comes a bit too early for him. We won’t take the risk with him now at this moment of the season. We have decided to give him another load in training tomorrow, then he will have the day off with the rest of the group and then train with us all on Friday to be ready totally for Tottenham on Sunday.”
Other than that, there are no other notable absentees for Chelsea and Tuchel to contend with. There will be some changes made to the lineup that defeated Aston Villa at the weekend. Edouard Mendy will once again be manning the goal for the Blues. There could be a few alterations in defence, however.
Thiago Silva is likely to make way for Andreas Christensen at the heart of the three-man backline, flanked by Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger. With Azpilicueta moving into the defensive line, Reece James, who missed the weekend clash due to suspension, ought to line up as the right wing-back. Marcos Alonso should continue on the left, ahead of Ben Chilwell and Emerson Palmieri.
With Kante not being risked, Mateo Kovacic becomes a certain starter in the middle of the park and the Croatian will be aiming to carry on from where he left off against Villa. There will be a change of partners for him, though, as Jorginho ought to return to the side after being benched last time out. Saul Niguez, who had a forgettable debut, will be the one making way.
Finally, in the attacking third, two of the three slots are pretty much certain with Romelu Lukaku and Kai Havertz expected to hold on to their spots. In the other attacking midfield slot, Mason Mount should return to the side, replacing Hakim Ziyech.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Havertz; Lukaku.