Thomas Tuchel previews Spurs v Chelsea
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Thomas Tuchel has explained why Edouard Mendy has been replaced in the Chelsea team for the Blues’ London derby clash with Tottenham. Kepa Arrizabalaga makes his first Premier League appearance of the season in goal.
The Chelsea boss has made three changes to the side that defeated Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League on Wednesday. Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game and inevitably keeps his place up front.
Lukaku is supported by an attacking midfield duo of Mason Mount and Kai Havertz. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic play just behind, leaving N’Golo Kante on the bench. Kante has returned from an ankle injury but has not earned a start against Spurs.
Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso flank a back three of Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger.
But Blues supporters were left baffled when they noticed that reliable goalkeeper Mendy had been left out of the matchday squad. The 29-year-old apparently travelled to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but is not among the 20 players picked.
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Mendy was outstanding in Chelsea’s last Premier League game against Aston Villa. His superb first-half double save helped Tuchel’s side win 3-0 and maintain their unbeaten start to the 2021-22 campaign.
The former Fulham shot-stopper Marcus Bettinelli has been named on the substitutes’ bench and will be in reserve should Arrizabalaga need to be taken off.
Mendy’s absence has now been explained as him having taken ‘a hit’ prior to the Champions League clash with Zenit. Goal have revealed that the Senegal international had trouble diving in the win.
He managed to feature for the full game against the Russian side but has now dropped out. Second choice goalkeeper Kepa now has a chance to prove his worth in a big game.
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Kepa has not played since replacing Mendy for the European Super Cup penalty shootout.
Chelsea defeated Villarreal on spot-kicks to win the trophy.
The Spaniard’s last Premier League appearance was in the 2-1 defeat by Villa on the final day of last season.
He was a substitute during the sensational Champions League victory against Manchester City.
Kepa will face Harry Kane, who Tuchel spent time discussing in his pre-match press conference.
It was put to the German that the match could be considered a battle between Lukaku and Kane, with both considered two of the best strikers in the league.
“There’s one big similarity: they score decisive goals. They love scoring and they always have scored no matter the competition. So that is the similarity, apart from this they are very different players, different styles of play.
“And we need to be very focused if Harry Kane plays, on how to defend, where to close him down, when you close the deliveries down.
“Once he has the ball he’s one of the most dangerous guys in the world to finish attacks, he’s fantastic in conversion and there are some players around him who deliver well, and can also be decisive.
“Let’s see if Heung-Min Son can play, because he can also be decisive.
“But we have also some guys around Romelu who are able to serve him and deliver good performances. In the end it’s a team effort, and it will always be like this.”
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