Jorginho is ruled out, but Callum Hudson-Odoi and Cesar Azpilicueta will return when Chelsea and Zenit St Petersburg face off on Wednesday.
Chelsea will hope to clinch the top spot in the UEFA Champions League Group H when they lock horns with Zenit St Petersburg at the Krestovsky Stadium on Wednesday night. And Thomas Tuchel has new roster issues to contend with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Jorginho is the latest major player to be sidelined, with the Italian international recovering from a back injury. The Chelsea vice-captain has joined Ben Chilwell (knee), Trevoh Chalobah (hamstring) and N’Golo Kante (knee) in the list of unavailable players.
To make matters worse, Mateo Kovacic has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unavailable for the foreseeable future. The Croat had resumed full training this week but is now sidelined once again. In his pre-match press conference, Tuchel provided a team news update.
The Chelsea boss said, “We have a few players missing tomorrow. Ben Chilwell is out, N’Golo is out, Trevoh Chalobah is out, Mateo Kovacic is out and Jorginho is out. We haven’t made all our decisions yet because we’ve only just finished the last training session before we travel but we may make some changes because we have to think about Leeds on Saturday also.”
Zenit St Petersburg vs Chelsea Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats
“We had some bad news with Kova. Mateo was in training yesterday with a big smile and it was a pure pleasure to have him back. Unfortunately we have had a setback with him because he has tested positive today for Coronavirus and is now self-isolating. Jorginho is out with back pain and we played with that pain against West Ham United.”
The absence of Jorginho, Kovacic and Kante means Tuchel is short-changed for options in midfield, meaning Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be the senior figure in the middle of the park. The Englishman should be partnered by Ross Barkley in the double pivot, considering Saul Niguez failed to impress when he was last given a chance.
Tuchel is also sweating over the fitness of Marcos Alonso, who is dealing with a minor back issue. The Spaniard should make way for Cesar Azpilicuetua in the left wing-back slot, with Reece James continuing on the right flank. At the back, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger pick themselves in the absence of Chalobah.
The three centre-backs will cover Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal, and the Senegalese shot-stopper will hope to fare better after his howlers against West Ham United this past weekend. Tuchel has a gamut of options at his disposal at the opposite end.
Romelu Lukaku still does not seem to have regained full fitness and will once again be relegated to the bench. And with Kai Havertz sustaining a minor ankle injury against West Ham, Timo Werner is likely to lead the line for Chelsea against Zenit. The German striker will likely be supplemented by Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, leaving Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic as options on the bench.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; James, Loftus-Cheek, Barkley, Azpilicueta; Mount, Hudson-Odoi; Werner
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