Chelsea will be looking to register a second successive victory when they welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League this evening, kick-off 8:00pm.
The Blues, who are one of six English clubs currently under the spotlight for agreeing to join the European Super League, progressed to the final of the Emirates FA Cup for the second season in succession on Saturday, defeating Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley.
Hakim Ziyech netted the only goal of the game, just ten minutes into the second half, to secure Thomas Tuchel’s side’s passage to the final, in which they will face Leicester City, who they could leapfrog in the Premier League table this evening with a victory.
The win against City capped off a fine week for the Blues following their 4-1 win over Crystal Palace and UEFA Champions League quarter-final triumph against FC Porto.
Although all of the talk ahead of tonight’s game has been about Chelsea agreeing to be one of the 12 clubs to be founding members of the European Super League, boss Tuchel has, understandably, been keen to focus on the match itself, insisting he and his players have had no say in the events of the last 48 hours.
Speaking to the media in his pre-match press conference on Monday afternoon, Tuchel explained: “I have known about it since yesterday. But, I am here to be in the hardest competition, that is why I came here, this is what I love – to play in the hardest competitions in Europe. That’s what I am at Chelsea.
“As you know, I do not get too involved with the subjects around us, I am a bit sad that the subjects are there now as I was hoping to talk about the Man City game or, more importantly, the Brighton game.
“This is clearly not the case today but as you know, I am part of this club, I trust my club to make the right decisions. I think it is too early to judge everything and it is not my part.
“On my badge at Chelsea, it says I have to play my role, everyone has to play their role and mine is to be a coach and to be focused. We have an important game coming up.”
On the pitch, Tuchel has had an outstanding start to life at Stamford Bridge, winning 13 of his first 19 games in charge. Although he has masterminded the Blues to victories over the likes of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, Tuchel believes revenge could be brewing.
The German added: “I don’t think like this and obviously we had a big defeat against Big Sam [Allardyce and West Brom]. So there has to be revenge coming up soon. But I don’t think like this, I never saw it like this, and I hope never see it as me battling against coaches.
“I am responsible for a huge club in the toughest league in Europe and I am here to have this kind of competition. So on the other sideline, if you have the most influential, successful, charismatic coaches in Europe, you know the challenge is on and that’s why I’m here.
“It excites me a lot and gets me out of bed early.”
Ahead of tonight’s tussle with the Seagulls, who were beaten 3-1 by Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season back in September, Tuchel has confirmed that he hopes to be without just midfielder Mateo Kovacic. The Croatian missed the FA Cup win against City through injury and is not expected to return this evening.
Elsewhere, Tuchel has confirmed that the Blues will have to manage Thiago Silva’s workload carefully after he went off at the weekend.
Issuing an update on the Brazilian’s condition, Tuchel said: “Thiago, it’s different, not because of injury but may be acute overload after his [thigh] injury.
“He’s not injured but we have to take care of his workload and see if it makes sense if he starts again or is on the bench.”
Meanwhile, Andreas Christensen is likely to return after playing no part in the last two fixtures. That means, should he be fit to start, Tuchel could face a big decision when it comes to deciding on his central-defensive trio.
Full Chelsea squad available to face Brighton:
Goalkeepers: Edouard Mendy, Kepa Arrizabalaga & Willy Caballero.
Defenders: Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Ben Chilwell, Marcos Alonso & Emerson Palmieri.
Midfielders: Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Billy Gilmour, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic & Faustino Anjorin.
Strikers: Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham & Olivier Giroud.