Jorginho and Saul Niguez will return, but N’Golo Kante will miss out when Chelsea and Brentford meet in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.
Chelsea will hope to overcome their roster issues and progress to the Carabao Cup semi-finals when they take on Brentford at the Brentford Community Stadium in the Last Eight tie on Wednesday night. And Thomas Tuchel continues to have several issues on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
The latest setback comes in the form of N’Golo Kante’s absence, with the Chelsea boss leaving him out of the game against Brentford entirely. While the Frenchman is not unfit, Tuchel is looking to manage his minutes following his recent return from a lengthy injury layoff. The same goes for Mateo Kovacic, with the Croat unlikely to feature, let alone start the game.
Kante and Kovacic’s absence means Chelsea could have as many as ten first-team players missing against Brentford, with Ben Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. At the same time, Andreas Christensen, Trevoh Chalobah and Hakim Ziyech are unlikely to take the field due to their respective fitness issues.
Furthermore there is incredible confusion surrounding the status of Kai Havertz, and the German international might also miss out. Tuchel addressed all the issues surrounding his squad in his pre-match press conference. The Chelsea manager also delivered some good news, as Jorginho is available after returning a negative PCR test.
Tuchel said, “What we did with N’Golo Kante for 90 minutes was close to irresponsible. Will he be involved against Brentford? Simply no. We cannot do this and I will not do it. We will now give him time to recover and prepare for Aston Villa and this is the situation.”
“Jorginho had a negative test, it was a wrong positive, so he is back training. Andreas is very doubtful with injury and the same for Trevoh Chalobah. From the match, we have Chalobah a big doubt. N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic we took a huge risk with, and we now are paying for this. Two matches in one week for them is simply impossible.”
In the absence of Kante and Kovacic, Tuchel has no choice but to deploy Jorginho and Saul Niguez in the central midfield positions, especially amid doubts surrounding the availability of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Out wide, Reece James and Marcos Alonso will continue to feature as the two wing-backs due to a lack of viable alternatives.
At the back, the central defensive partnership should be formed by Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Malang Sarr, with Thiago Silva likely to be rested in preparation for the game against Aston Villa on Sunday. Behind the three centre-backs, Kepa Arrizabalaga will take his place in the Chelsea goal, with Edouard Mendy receiving a breather.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Christian Pulisic will continue to spearhead the Chelsea attack amid the confusion surrounding Havertz. The USMNT international will be supplemented by Ross Barkley and Mason Mount, with Barkley getting a rare start in the absence of regular attackers. The backup options for Tuchel will largely consist of under-23 players.
Chelsea Predicted XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Sarr; James, Saul, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Barkley; Pulisic