Four things spotted in Chelsea training ahead of Southampton trip as Havertz and Thiago Silva return

The Blues returned to training today to prepare for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Southampton and build one their fine start under Thomas Tuchel.

Having been given two days off after recording a fifth-straight victory under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea’s players returned to Cobham today to begin their preparations for Saturday’s trip to Southampton.

The mood around the club has lifted over the past three weeks, helped by a positive run of results and the fact the Blues have moved from ninth to fourth in the Premier League table under the German coach.

However, things get a little tougher for Tuchel in the month ahead. After Saturday’s game at St Mary’s, Chelsea take on Atletico Madrid over two legs in the Champions League Round of 16 and have to take on Manchester United, Everton and Leeds United in the top flight.

The priority is this weekend’s game on the south coast, as Tuchel stated on Monday evening: “We will focus on Southampton because the best way to arrive in the Champions League is with a good performance and hopefully another win.”

The side Tuchel picks to take on the Saints will certainly be intriguing. He could go with the tried and trusted, the core group that have helped Chelsea quickly rise up the Premier League table.

But with the game against Atletico on Tuesday night, which will take place in Budapest due to travel restrictions to Spain created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Blues head coach may opt to rest key stars.

The good news, however, is Tuchel should have almost every player available for the clash with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton.

And that’s where we’ll begin with the things we spotted from Chelsea’s training session at Cobham today.

Havertz makes his return

The Blues have been without the 21-year-old for the last four games after he suffered an injury in the build-up to the victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the start of the month.

Quite what caused Havertz’s absence hasn’t been explained but the German star was back in training today and should be in contention to face the Saints on Saturday.

Havertz has played just twice under Tuchel – he started against Wolverhampton Wanderers and made an appearance off the substitutes’ bench during the win over Burnley – and has struggled to produce his best form at Stamford Bridge following his summer move from Bayer Leverkusen.

But in Tuchel, he has a head coach who has full belief in his ability and potential.

“It takes its time and there is no short answer,” Tuchel said last week. “If there was one I’d clearly go and talk to him about that to bring out his full potential.

“What we know, what we can rely on, is that all this potential is in him.

“For any transfer and any player who changes club, things are different. Sometimes players need a little more time to adapt, sometimes players do it quickly, sometimes it’s between one match and another. It’s a process.

“All we can do is push him, support him and give him what he needs. We are figuring this out right now. He made a pretty good start with us, good matches.

Thiago Silva is back too

There was genuine concern among Chelsea supporters that Silva would be ruled out for some time after limping off during the victory over Spurs.

Fortunately, Tuchel eased those fears after the game and the 36-year-old defender has only missed two weeks of action, although that has seen the Blues play three times without the influential Brazilian.

Andreas Christensen has deputised excellently in Silva’s absence from the Chelsea side but it is reassuring to see the Brazil international back in training ahead of the Blues’ key fixtures.

Whether he is risked against Southampton, however, is another matter. As discussed here, it may well be sensible to give Silva the weekend off to ensure he is ready for Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night.

Mendy prepares for his return

There was huge surprise on Monday evening when it was confirmed Kepa Arrizabalaga was starting ahead of the Senegal international against Newcastle United.

Kepa hadn’t featured in the Premier League for the Blues since October and was very much viewed as Mendy’s deputy. That the Spaniard produce a composed performance and kept a clean sheet immediately led to speculation that he could usurp Mendy in the goalkeeping pecking order.

Fortunately for the summer signing from Rennes, Tuchel quickly shutdown that notion. “Edou is the number one,” the German coach told Gary Neville on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football show. “This is clear. It was clear before the game and it stays like this.

“I was very happy that Kepa kept a second clean sheet in a row, it was a moment to let him feel the rhythm and build up his confidence, not only in the cup games but here in a home game at Stamford Bridge.

“This was the moment. It was clear before we hoped for the best performance [for him] and a clean sheet. Edou will be in goal from now on because he’s recovered physically and mentally. Right now, today, he is the number one.”

Werner and Giroud involved but Abraham is absent

Having ended his barren run in the Premier League against Newcastle United on Monday, Timo Werner will be hoping to remain among the goals if he is featured against Southampton on Saturday.


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