Kalidou Koulibaly is suspended, but Mateo Kovacic will be in contention to feature for Chelsea against Leicester City on Saturday.
Chelsea will be desperate to return to winning ways when they play hosts to Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon. And Thomas Tuchel has greeted a mixed bag of updates on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Kalidou Koulibaly is suspended after receiving two yellow cards against Leeds United last week. In addition to the Senegalese defender, Tuchel will be bereft of the services of two first-team players, with N’Golo Kante nursing a hamstring injury and Marcos Alonso unavailable as he looks to seal a summer departure from Chelsea.
But there is some good news as Mateo Kovacic and Armando Broja are in contention to feature against Leicester City after recovering from their respective injuries. Tuchel provided an update on the severity of Kante’s injury during his pre-match presser, ruling the French midfielder out until after the international break. The Chelsea boss also spoke about Kovacic’s return to fitness.
“With N’Golo we are talking about weeks, we are talking about four weeks plus. He is our key player normally that gives something to our team that no other player in the world can give to any other team. So that makes him a key player and if your key player is out it is a situation you don’t like and you have to deal with but it has a huge influence, of course.”
“Mateo is back in the group. N’Golo is the only one who did not train through this week, so everybody is back in training. Kova is back in the group and ready to play some 20 minutes. We miss him also as a personality and his experience and his quality of course, but it’s maybe 20 minutes at the moment.”
Kovacic should make an appearance off the bench for Chelsea against Leicester. But in his absence from the starting lineup, Ruben Loftus-Cheek might get an opportunity through the middle after starting as the right wing-back in the last two games. Loftus-Cheek will accompany Jorginho in the middle of the park.
Reece James should take up Loftus-Cheek’s vacated spot on the right flank, with Cesar Azpilicueta expected to return in the central defensive unit. And with Koulibaly suspended, Marc Cucurella might start as a centre-back, with Ben Chilwell lining up as the left wing-back. Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy will complete the defensive unit for Chelsea.
Finally, the offensive unit might remain unchanged despite the sub-par performances of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling last week. Havertz will continue to spearhead the Chelsea attack, with Sterling and Mount playing behind him. Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, and Broja will be the backup offensive options on the bench.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Cucurella; James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Chilwell; Mount, Sterling; Havertz