Chelsea host Fulham on Saturday as they look to take another step towards next season’s Champions League. But Thomas Tuchel will also have en eye on this season’s competition with the Blues hosting Real Madrid next Wednesday. Here, Express Sport looks at the manager’s likely line-up for today’s Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge (5.30pm).
Goalkeeper – Edouard Mendy
Every game will be crucial between now and the end of the season, with Chelsea targeting a top-four spot as well as Champions League and FA Cup success.
And so Tuchel will again turn to Mendy, who has firmly established himself as the club’s No1 and is topped only by Manchester City’s Ederson in teams of Premier League clean sheets this season.
Aided by Chelsea’s impressive defence since Tuchel took charge, Mendy has kept 15 clean sheets in the top flight, just two behind Ederson – as well as an impressive seven in the Champions League.
And Tuchel will need him to be on top form again in Saturday’s derby against a Fulham side desperate for points in their battle against relegation.
Defence – Zouma, Silva, Christensen
Antonio Rudiger will miss Saturday’s game after picking up a knock in last week’s 1-1 draw against Real Madrid.
The German centre-back has been revitalised under Tuchel, and the manager is confident he will recover for next week’s second leg.
Tuchel can call on Kurt Zouma to slot seamlessly into his back three, with Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen set to keep their places from the game in Madrid.
And Cesar Azpilicueta could be rested with the second leg in mind.
Midfield – Hudson-Odoi, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso
Mateo Kovacic is still out with a thigh injury, so Tuchel is likely to stick with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho as his midfield pairing.
Tuchel said of Kovacic’s injury: “He trained with us, but he’s still not fully confident, he felt something at the end of training. So he’s not available unfortunately.
“Before training today we thought that Kova had a big chance to join us latest for Madrid, maybe even for today. So now we have a little setback, not a big one, with him. I don’t want to be too negative, let’s see how he is tomorrow.”
Ben Chilwell and Azpilicueta started in the wing-back positions against Madrid, with Reece James coming on to replace the latter midway through the second half.
All three could be rested against Fulham, meaning Marcos Alonso would play on the left while Callum Hudson-Odoi could be bought in on the right.
Attack – Ziyech, Werner, Mount
Timo Werner has faced more criticism after firing straight at former Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois during last week’s clash against Real Madrid.
But Tuchel has largely kept faith with the misfiring striker, and could give the summer signing another chance to find the sharpness he needs in front of goal following his winner against West Ham last weekend.
Hakim Ziyech could come in for Christian Pulisic as Tuchel looks to freshen up his options, while Mason Mount has proved himself a hugely influential player all season, and should again start against Fulham.
Chelsea expected XI (3-4-3): Mendy; Zouma, Silva, Christensen; Hudson-Odoi, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Ziyech, Werner, Mount.