The build up to Chelsea vs Manchester City is well underway once again.
Thomas Tuchel hasn’t even been in the job for nine months and already he is preparing for a fourth clash against Pep Guardiola’s side. The German coach racked up an impressive record against the Premier League champions, beating them in three different competitions towards the end of last season.
That said, the visit of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and more remains a daunting task to overcome, and while Chelsea’s squad has improved, there are a few niggling issues that may need resolving ahead of the lunch time kick off.
Friday brings Tuchel’s press conference and just maybe we can find some answers.
football.london takes a look at the big questions on the agenda below:
The first place press conferences should always start. Who will be available for the clash?
Timo Werner started in all three victories of City last season, and while his impact varied across the games, it’s clear his qualities suit the high line this weekend’s visitors will often employ.
The forward has not started a Premier League match since the arrival of Romelu Lukaku, but looked lively against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup and even found the back of the net as calls for him to start alongside the Belgian emerge.
However, he did not take a penalty due to pain in his calf, but could not be substituted after the Blues had already used their allotted amount.
Hopefully, it is just a small issue and the German will be available to at least be used from the bench.
Of course there are still questions around Edouard Mendy also, who Tuchel admitted was in a race to be fit in time for Guardiola and co, but Kepa Arrizabalaga’s recent display may have eased some worries on that front.
Christian Pulisic is still on the comeback trail and the Chelsea coach should be able to reveal whether the USA star has finally returned to training, though it seems unlikely he will be fit enough to face the Champions League runners-up.
Can N’Golo Kante play 90 minutes?
When N’Golo Kante was substituted at half time against Aston Villa, you can’t help but worry a little. However, Tuchel reassured Chelsea supporters around the world that Mason Mount’s introduction had been planned ahead of the match.
Kante was as busy as ever in the midfield, albeit a little sloppy, but the change was the opposite of what took place against Tottenham.
The Frenchman came on at half time for Mount in that system and it allowed Tuchel to change the system, and transform the game with an extra midfield body.
A number of questions arise from the situation. Have the past two games been to get Kante up to speed against City? The talismanic figure was man of the match against them in the Champions League final, and two 45 minute stints could be the perfect balance of getting minutes into his legs while not overworking the midfielder.
Or, is Kante still getting up to speed? A less optimistic look.
Or perhaps Sunday’s changes could be a hint of some tactical plans in preparation for Guardiola.
Whatever the reason, Kante’s importance in the biggest games has been proven time and again. How he can be utilised on Saturday will be crucial.
Has Ruben Loftus-Cheek overtaken Saul?
Loftus-Cheek started his first match of the season on Wednesday and with it, was placed in a surprising role. The academy product found himself placed as a number six, while Saul Niguez was placed on his left side.
The 25-year-old had a difficult time last term while at Fulham, but showed none of that baggage as he flourished in his new role and showed he was more prepared to earn minutes than his teammate, Saul.
This is by no means enough to force his way past the likes of Kante, Jorginho or Kovacic, but could mean the midfielder is an option from the bench going forward. However, Saul’s versatility might mean he still has more utility on the day.
Given Tuchel had no press conference in the aftermath of the Villa win, it will be fascinating to hear more of his thoughts on Loftus-Cheek and what role he could play for the rest of the season.
The Blues boss has previously said it was all in the player’s hands. Loftus-Cheek just put the ball back in Tuchel’s court.