All the very latest from Chelsea’s Cobham training ground ahead of the Blues’ clash with Barnsley in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Oakwell on Thursday evening
Christian Pulisic (right) and Thomas Tuchel in discussion. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).Chelsea will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to life under head coach Thomas Tuchel when they lock horns with Championship outfit Barnsley at Oakwell in the FA Cup fifth round on Thursday evening.
The Blues, who were defeated 1-0 by the South Yorkshire club on their last visit to Oakwell back in March 2008, extended their wining run to three matches on Sunday evening with a 2-1 triumph over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Goals from Mason Mount and Jorginho either side of a disastrous Antonio Rudiger own-goal sealed all three points for the Blues, ensuring Tuchel has taken ten points from the first 12 available since succeeding Frank Lampard last month.
However, Tuchel will be able to put Chelsea’s Premier League responsibilities to one side and experience the FA Cup for the very first time when they make the long trip north tomorrow night.
Whilst Chelsea will arrive at Oakwell as overwhelming favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, Tuchel will be leaving nothing to chance, with the FA Cup having a unique history of being able to cause a shock when you least expect one.
But to ensure the Blues avoid the disappointment of being knocked out of the competition by lower-league opposition for the first time since their famous 4-2 collapse at the hands of Bradford City in 2015, Tuchel has been making his players put the hard yards in on the training ground.
During his pre-match press conference on Wednesday lunchtime, Tuchel hinted that he would use the trip to Oakwell as an opportunity to make changes to his team and get a look at those who have been hammering on the door for an opportunity since he took over at Stamford Bridge last month.
Tuchel said: “There is a high possibility we see a lot of changes. First of all, everybody who is on the pitch tomorrow deserves to be on the pitch.
“So there will be guys tomorrow who suffered a little bit from my decisions in the last few games.
“And for us, it’s the third away match in a row. We don’t want to lose attention, awareness, and intensity in our game.”
Amongst those who will be looking to make the most of Tuchel’s decision to make alternations will be youngster Lewis Bate. The central-midfielder is considered as one of the hottest properties emerging from Chelsea’s youth academy and has no shortage of potential within his locker.
Despite the hype surrounding the 18-year-old’s potential, Bate is still awaiting his debut for the club. However, with changes a certainty, and the Blues heading into the contest as favourites, Tuchel may be willing to hand him an opportunity to impress.
As you can see from the image above, Bate took part in training on Wednesday and was looking to shield the ball from fellow midfielder Billy Gilmour, who will also be eyeing an outing against the Tykes.
Mount and Hudson-Odoi in good spirits
After three wins and a draw from the first four games of a new era under a new head coach, spirits right around the football club are bound to be high.
Tuchel has had an immediate impact since taking over in west London last month, guiding Chelsea to victories over Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United, as well as earning a point against Wolverhampton Wanderers in his first game in charge.
Form like that is only going to raise spirits and morale within the camp, and it certainly seems as though both of those things are flowing through the squad at this moment in time.
During the training session, both Mount and Hudson-Odoi were pictured having a playful moment, pushing and shoving each other, whilst both grinning from ear to ear, suggesting they were enjoying themselves.
Whilst little things like these may mean nothing to some people, it highlights that Tuchel has already created a positive environment for the players to not only work in but also enjoy.
As well as the above image showing Mount and Hudson-Odoi enjoying themselves, it also shows youngster Tino Anjorin, who is stood next to Mount, featuring in training once again, suggesting he could be in line for an appearance against the Tykes.
Pulisic in the frame
After missing Sunday’s win over the Blades due to a family matter, USA international Pulisic is in contention to feature against Barnsley.
On Wednesday, the former Borussia Dortmund ace was pictured in deep conversation with Tuchel, confirming that he had returned to training after being forced to miss out at the weekend.
But with changes poised to be made against Barnsley, Pulisic may not be in line for a return, with the winger likely to be crucial to the Blues’ Premier League plans over the coming weeks and months.
Having said that, though, the 22-year-old is yet to start a match under Tuchel, potentially meaning that he could feature against the Tykes from the off in an attempt to remind his new boss of what he is all about.
Summer signing absent
Following Tuchel’s arrival in west London a fortnight ago, summer signing Kai Havertz was soon tipped to be the biggest winner of his fellow countryman’s arrival, with many suggesting a German-speaking coach could be key to unlocking the former Bayer Leverkusen man’s potential.
However, Havertz’s Chelsea career has hit a stumbling block in the last week, denying him the chance to quickly establish himself as a key figure within Tuchel’s plans.
Ahead of last Thursday’s 1-0 win over Spurs, Havertz picked up an injury in training and was touch-and-go as to whether he would make the match-day squad. In the end, he proved to be an absentee, just as he was against Chris Wilder’s Blades on Sunday.
Whilst it is unlikely that he would feature against Barnsley if returning from injury, he was not pictured in training on Wednesday, suggesting he may still not be at the level required to feature in first-team training.
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