The season is well underway and Chelsea’s load of fixtures has no sign of lessening after their victory over Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup.
The sides we’re level after 90 minutes but, fortunately, the Blues were spared extra time with ties moving directly to penalties.
Kepa Arrizabalaga showed his prestige to save from the spot once again and Reece James had the honours of putting the final penalty away to allow Thomas Tuchel and co to advance.
There’s no let up with Manchester City on Saturday evening swiftly followed by Juventus in the Champions League, and Tuchel looked to manage his squad ahead of two gargantuan matches.
Did it help stave off the injuries, and could Chelsea welcome back some stars for the weekend? football.london takes a look below:
The Chelsea goalkeeper has not featured since he picked up a knock in the game against Zenit St Petersburg but returned to individual training on Wednesday.
Mendy was not involved in the squad for Aston Villa but Tuchel hoped that the Senegalese international would feature in Thursday’s session. However, he is by no means guaranteed to play against Manchester City.
The German coach said: “I think it’s possible but it’s a race against pain and a race against time. Let’s see, I hope he will be back in team training on Thursday and if it goes well, he is ready for Saturday. I don’t know right now.”
Given the Blues talisman’s injury record over the last 12 months it’s always a concern to see him substituted as he was against Aston Villa.
Kante was replaced by Mason Mount at half time of the Carabao Cup clash, in a role reversal of the change that occurred in the win over Tottenham in the Premier League.
Tuchel cleared up the substitute and noted that going into the game it was planned that the Frenchman and Mount would ‘share the game’.
The former RB Leipzig forward was conspicuous in his absence from Chelsea’s list of penalty takers at Stamford Bridge, particularly after opening the scoring for the Blues in the second period.
It turns out the 25-year-old had a calf issue and had to remain on the pitch after Mount, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley had already entered the field.
“I had some pain in my calf but with only three substitutes, I couldn’t go off,” Werner, who was victim of a heavy challenge late in the second half, told Chelsea’s post-match broadcast. “But when you have fit players on the pitch, it’s better they shoot than me today.”
Given the striker remained on the pitch, hopefully it is nothing to worry about.
The USA star has not featured since returning from international duty with an ankle injury earlier this month.
Pulisic was in the stands as Chelsea overcame Villa along with the likes of Jorginho and Mendy, but hadn’t featured in training ahead of the previous game against Spurs.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after batting Spurs aside, Tuchel said: “The game against Aston Villa is maybe too close, I hope I am wrong. This is my impression with him not in training so far. Let’s see tomorrow.
“Maybe he had a good progression today. Maybe it is possible. It would be super nice to have him but it is doubtful.”
With the slim hope the Blues boss had, perhaps he could be in contention for Manchester City but it seems unlikely he would be risked immediately.