Hakim Ziyech and Saul Niguez are set to return to the starting lineup when Chelsea face Southampton in the Carabao Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday.
Chelsea will be hoping to seal safe passage through to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals when they play hosts to Southampton at Stamford Bridge in the Round of 16 tie. And Thomas Tuchel does not have any fresh roster issues to contend with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Christian Pulisic (ankle), Timo Werner (hamstring) and Romelu Lukaku (ankle) remain the only players on the sidelines, with N’Golo Kante likely to be available after facing some tightness in his muscle on the weekend. However, Tuchel did provide an update on the Frenchman during his pre-match press conference.
The Chelsea manager said, “The game was too early. He [Kante] did the full training on Friday and after training, he said he feels his muscles a bit tight. He went to the physios for massages and for some treatment and he actually wanted to wait until Saturday in the morning to take the decision. I said no, it’s such an early game tomorrow, the possibility that it will change is not so high.”
“I said take your time and it was simply one day too early. If the match would have been on Sunday he would have played. So he is fully available for Tuesday and for Newcastle.” Tuchel also spoke about possibly making rotations against Southampton during his press conference.
The Chelsea boss continued, “There will be some changes, how much I don’t know yet. Sometimes you can never be fully sure, do you interrupt a good flow, is it better to keep everybody in there and playing to keep the momentum going or is it the moment to give some players a rest?”
The rotations should start right from goal, where Kepa Arrizabalaga ought to come in for Edouard Mendy, hoping to make an impression on Tuchel. The three-man central defensive unit also ought to see a couple of changes, with Andreas Christensen and Malang Sarr expected to join Trevoh Chalobah in a young back three.
As for the midfield unit, Kante might be preserved for the game against Newcastle United on the weekend, with Saul Niguez instead likely to get a rare start. Partnering Saul in the middle of the park should be Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with Reece James and Marcos Alonso likely to be the two wing-backs.
Finally, there is not enough room for rotation in the attacking unit. However, Mason Mount should make way for Hakim Ziyech, with the Englishman getting some well deserved rest after grabbing a hat-trick against Norwich City on the weekend. Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi, though, will keep hold of their spots in the absence of Lukaku and Werner.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Kepa; Chalobah, Christensen, Sarr; James, Loftus-Cheek, Saul; Alonso; Ziyech, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi