Chelsea’s mammoth month of December mercifully concludes with the visit of Brighton to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.
While more than a dozen top flight matches have fallen foul of Covid-enforced postponements – including two of Brighton’s fixtures – Chelsea are scheduled to slog through their entire exhausting gaggle of games. The club pleaded with the Premier League for a day off during this run but the ‘people at the green table, in offices’ denied them according to Thomas Tuchel.
Here’s the XI Chelsea’s exasperated boss may call upon come midweek.
Edouard Mendy (GK) – Across Mendy’s first 18 appearances of the season, Chelsea‘s keeper prevented 3.9 goals more than the average shot-stopper would be expected to – in his last five matches the Senegal international has conceded 2.1 goals more than average.
Trevoh Chalobah (CB) – The 22-year-old delivered a frank assessment of his own performance in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa on the weekend – ‘not my best of games’ – but may well retain his place.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – The ageing hamstrings of Thiago Silva felt tight enough to force the 37-year-old off on the weekend, opening a slot Christensen has filled competently enough before.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – While his long-term relationship at Chelsea remains no less certain, Rudiger’s immediate future with the Blues is firmly ensconced in the first team.
Reece James (RWB) – Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold is the only defender in Europe’s top five leagues with more direct goal involvements than James (five goals, four assists).
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – As N’Golo Kante is forced to the sidelines with a painful injury recurrence, Kovacic is poised for his first Premier League start since Chelsea’s 7-0 win over Norwich in October.
Jorginho (CM) – A pair of spot kicks took Jorginho into double digits for Premier League penalties in 2021 alone – a new record for a single player.
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – With Ben Chilwell unavailable, Alonso’s position as the squad’s only remaining senior left wing-back is twice as strong.
Mason Mount (RW) – Chelsea’s top scorer this season (seven goals) has already bettered the tally he accrued in 1,800 more minutes last term.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – By nodding Chelsea ahead against Villa with his first top flight goal since a brace against the same opponents in September, Lukaku became the fifth-most prolific scorer of headers in Premier League history (24).
Hakim Ziyech (LW) – Callum Hudson-Odoi edged ahead of Ziyech in the pecking order on the weekend by virtue of one and a half more training sessions. Yet, after the 21-year-old played a full 90 minutes, he may well make way for the Morocco international on Wednesday.