Chelsea’s second pre-season friendly of the summer arrives on Tuesday, as we look at how Thomas Tuchel’s side will lineup against Bournemouth.
It should have been the Blues’ third friendly of the summer but their scheduled match with League of Ireland outfit Drogheda United was postponed last Thursday owing to a positive Covid-19 case within the Chelsea camp.
The club quickly decided to call a halt to their training camp in Maynooth and head back to London, where they were joined by Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Antonio Rudiger, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante, Kurt Zouma, Kenedy, Michy Batshuayi and Tiemoue Bakayoko upon their return.
Neither of those players are expected to feature on the south coast owing to the incredibly quick turnaround since they came back on Saturday and having not had any mileage in their legs for a good few weeks.
If Tuchel were to see fit then they could appear off the bench but with, say Kante’s troublesome hamstrings, it seems a bit too big of a risk for a friendly.
Therefore, it could well be the last chance for some of Tuchel’s somewhat makeshift squad that he has been working with for the past fortnight to state their case to remain with him for the upcoming season.
The likes of Dujon Sterling, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Armando Broja have been impressing the German head coach. Hudson-Odoi’s spot is secure but for the other three, it isn’t.
Broja has penned a new five-year contract but the club still want a world class striker this summer. Loftus-Cheek believes he is in the last chance saloon to salvage his Chelsea career, while Sterling is making his way back after a run of dreadful luck with injury and illness over the past 14 months.
For Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley too, it could be a defining game on the south coast with their futures in west London very much up for debate. So too Davide Zappacosta and Conor Gallagher.
You could also look towards Tammy Abraham as well, with his future certainly not settled though arguably a little more so than others he is set to be playing alongside tomorrow.
With all that in mind, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Tuchel go a bit stronger rather than be experimental to give everyone minutes against last season’s beaten Championship play-off finalists.
Here is how we think the Blues could lineup:
Kepa; Zappacosta, Sarr, Clarke-Salter, Miazga, Alonso; Gallagher, Loftus-Cheek, Barkley, Ziyech, Abraham.
It doesn’t seem likely that Tuchel will send out two different XI’s for each half like he did for the first friendly against Peterborough, as he will want to get a longer look at some of his players in match action.
There could, and probably will be, changes at half time with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Marcos Alonso, Dujon Sterling and Armando Broja targeting some more pre-season game time.