4 Problems Chelsea Must Solve Before Their Game Against Palace
The Blues are swiftly approaching the start of the new season, and there are a few difficulties to be resolved between now and August 14. Thomas Tuchel will continue finalizing his Chelsea roster over the next week in preparation for the Premier League season, which begins this Saturday. It all kicks off on Friday night in west London when new boys Brentford take on Arsenal, and the following day, Chelsea kicks off their projected Premier League title challenge with a home game against Crystal Palace.
Chelsea has had a difficult start to the season. A title cannot be won in the first few weeks of the season, but there is a strong case to be made that it can be lost – Chelsea plays Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, and Man City in four of their first six games. Tuchel had 42 players at Cobham for training last week ahead of the Mind Series friendly with Spurs, which they drew 2-2 to end an unbeaten pre-season in which the head coach handed lots of minutes to plenty of players due to his squad’s staggering return dates from summer tournaments. The Blues’ transfer window has erupted into life, with a club-record deal for Romelu Lukaku poised to be completed shortly, possibly as early as Tuesday, to address Tuchel’s squad’s gaping goal-scoring problem from the second part of last season.
So, with just five days till Tuchel and the Blues kick off the season, here are four problems Tuchel needs to solve before the season begins?
1. How will the defense be constructed?
All indications point to the German remaining with the five-at-the-back formation he used in the second part of 2020/21, as he did in pre-season. Tuchel’s defense has struggled a bit in the preseason due to players returning late. Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma have already played two preseason games, whereas Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, and Cesar Azpilicueta have only played one intra-squad game.
With Trevoh Chalobah on loan, Jake Clarke-Salter and Matt Miazga unlikely to be included in the first-team squad, and Malang Sarr presumably unavailable, the third center defender slot is up for grabs.
2. How much time should you give N’Golo Kante?
The dynamic Frenchman was superb for 45 minutes against Spurs in pre-season, continuing his incredible finale to last season, which culminated in a man-of-the-match performance in the Champions League final. Tuchel has gone on the public as saying he must protect his midfielder and, perhaps, his best player, N’Golo Kante, who has had a handful of hamstring ailments in the last six months.
Kante would run all day if he could, so he won’t want to be limited in minutes, but Tuchel will argue that he knows better and won’t let the Frenchman into what he refers to as “the red zone” when it comes to injury concerns.
3. Who is Lukaku’s teammate?
Early this week, the Belgian striker is anticipated to complete his transfer to the club. He won’t be arriving at Cobham for his first session chilly, having already been in pre-season training with Inter. It’s unclear whether this implies he’ll start versus Palace, but there’s no reason why he couldn’t.
Tuchel will have a huge say in who plays alongside him because the 28-year-old will be the focal point of the Blues attack. In Tuchel’s front three systems, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz are the obvious contenders, but Hakim Ziyech has had a fantastic preseason, and there’s also Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, and Tammy Abraham. Tuchel has always had a plethora of attacking options, and with the addition of Lukaku, he now has even more. He’ll have to make a huge decision on who will line up alongside the prolific Belgian.
4. When should the latecomers be introduced?
Thiago Silva, Jorginho, Mason Mount, Reece James, Christensen, and Azpilicueta, all late returners, have not played competitively in the preseason. They took part in the intra-squad game at Cobham and will most likely participate in the Super Cup against Villarreal, although only for a few minutes.
Will that be enough for them to start the Premier League opener against Palace?. Tuchel has the last say, but based on this preseason, he’s been quite conservative with the number of minutes his first-team players have played. Giving them only 45 minutes against the Eagles before taking them off doesn’t seem like the best idea for a Premier League game, especially before a tough run of games ahead, with the Palace game, not exactly a cakewalk.
So, will they start against Palace or will they be benched till the Arsenal match? It’s another crucial decision for the head coach to make.
Do you think these problems can affect Chelsea’s gameplay if not fixed?
What other problem do you think Chelsea has and needs to be fixed before their next match?
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