Chelsea will be looking to halt a run of two successive defeats when they lock horns with Leicester City for the second time in the space of just four days at Stamford Bridge in a crucial Premier League encounter this evening, kick-off 8:15pm.
The Blues, who have failed to win any of their last three home clashes with the Foxes, were beaten 1-0 by Brendan Rodgers’ side in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, with Youri Tielemans‘ second half stunner sealing a historic win for the Midlands club.
Defeat to Leicester marked a second straight defeat for Chelsea, as they were beaten 1-0 by Arsenal last Wednesday evening, which, of course, robbed them of the opportunity to move back above the Foxes in the Premier League table and into third.
With tonight’s encounter seeing Chelsea enter it two points behind Leicester in third and just one ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool, the outcome could have a significant impact on the club’s top-four prospects.
Nevertheless, the Blues know that their fate remains in their own hands, as two wins from their remaining two matches would see them clinch third place. However, head coach Thomas Tuchel has urged his players to remain “focused” and enter tonight’s game “like any other.”
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday lunchtime, the German said: “Well, that didn’t make things boring in the Premier League, that late goal from Alisson! But, at all costs… I don’t like, because it’s not what we do.
We want to win games. It’s not about life and death but it’s also super important for our ambitions.
Of course, the situation is very clear: it’s still in our hands. So this is very positive and what we worked hard for. We approach the game more or less like any other game, the more tension is on the more normal approach we use.
There are a lot of talks around what happens, so we have to stay focused on what we can influence.
“We approach this game like any other game, with a clear win and desire to win.”
Considering Chelsea will enter this evening’s game on a run of two successive defeats without scoring, Tuchel will have the challenge of getting the confidence within his squad flowing again, especially after losing a cup final.
Asked if he will have a job on his hands mentally prepare his players, the former Borussia Dortmund boss continued: “Of course, it is natural but it is natural to also be ready again.
“I was more worried and angry about our performance in the Arsenal game, where I had the feeling that we were not sharp enough and not on point. We did not put the bar up to our level to bring us a victory home.
Still, it was not the case in the final. If we bring out the same performance, energy against the ball and work rate, while slightly improving details especially in decision making then we are absolutely able to win matches.
“We are absolutely aware that we need momentum and a bit of luck in every match. For results, it is a bit like this.”
Perhaps perfectly timed, the Blues will be backed by almost 8,000 supporters at Stamford Bridge this evening, with the turnstiles of the west London club poised to move again for the first time since December.
On if the return of fans will help, Tuchel said: “Normally, absolutely yes. In a moment where it is the first time after over a year, we have to see what’s going on with 8,000.
It feels amazing that it is possible. It is a step in the absolute right direction and we hope everything is okay with that.
“We hope it is the extra percentage of support that helps us to win tomorrow.”
Ahead of this evening’s game, Tuchel has not reported any fresh injury concerns, meaning he has a large pool of players to choose from when it boils down to naming his starting line-up.
However, he has hinted that Andreas Christensen and Mateo Kovacic, who were not quite fit enough to make the squad at the weekend, could make returns.
“When Kova [Mateo Kovacic] and Andreas Christensen, maybe, come back into the squad, I need to figure out the squad and maybe eliminate two more players,” said Tuchel.
This is the worst day and the worst decision for me in the whole week because since I arrived here everybody deserves to be in the squad.”
Elsewhere, the likes of Edouard Mendy, Ben Chilwell, Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz will be pushing for recalls.
Full Chelsea squad available to face Leicester:
Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero & Edouard Mendy.
Defenders: Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma, Valentino Livramento, Ben Chilwell, Marcos Alonso & Emerson.
Midfielders: Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Billy Gilmour, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Faustino Anjorin & Jorginho.
Strikers: Tammy Abraham, Timo Werner & Olivier Giroud.