[NEWS] Four players Thomas Tuchel must start with against Fulham to keep Chelsea fresh for Real Madrid clash

Now I know this is going to sound a little strange but bear with me.

Chelsea’s Premier League game against Fulham tomorrow may
prove more difficult than their midweek Champions League semi-
final first leg against Real Madrid.
Yes, you read that right. The team that currently sits 18th in
the Premier League table and have won just two of their last ten
league matches may very well be a sterner test for Thomas Tuchel
and his players than the 13-time European champions.
I’m sure you’re asking why, so let me explain.

First off is the fact that no professional footballer lacks motivation,
desire, hunger, or any other synonym you care to choose when it
comes to playing in a Champions League semi-final against Real

Like it or not, Fulham at home doesn’t quite have the same gravitas
nor provide the same mental stimulus.

Then there’s the reality that the second leg of the semi-final against
the La Liga giants will be played on Wednesday. It’s only human for
players’ minds to jump ahead, to look beyond Scott Parker’s side
at the bigger, more enticing, fixture.

And finally is the fact Fulham can sit back, defend, and put the
initiative onto Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Blues need to win to
maintain momentum and keep themselves ahead in the race to
finish in the Premier League top four. The pressure is very much on

Thomas Tuchel will be aware of the potential pitfalls and will try to
guard against them. And perhaps the best way to do that is to
freshen up his starting XI.

The German named an unchanged side for the first time in
midweek, opting to go with the same eleven players who started
last weekend’s victory over West Ham United. It paid off with the
Blues claiming a 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital.

He will not do the same against Fulham. He can’t afford to. Players
need to be rested, minds need to be kept sharp for the huge games

So changes to the side are likely and here are the four Chelsea
players we think should start against the Cottagers.

Kurt Zouma

Under Frank Lampard, the French defender was an almost ever-
present in the starting XI. Yet with Tuchel at the helm – and despite
the German coach favouring a system which utilises three centre-
backs – Zouma has struggled for regular minutes.

He’s started only eight of the 22 matches Tuchel has overseen, the
last of which was the 0-0 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in
which the 26-year-old made a late error which almost cost Chelsea
a point.

Zouma is very much bottom of the centre-back pecking order.

However, he should start against Fulham with 36-year-old Thiago
Silva unlikely to feature and Cesar Azpilicueta leggy in the latter
stages against Madrid having played two consecutive matches at
right wing-back.
Callum Hudson-Odoi
One of the first decisions Tuchel made after replacing Lampard at
the end of January was to deploy Hudson-Odoi at wing-back in his
3-4-2-1 system.

The 20-year-old started the German coach’s opening two matches
in the role and was then pushed into the forward line for the 1-0
win at Tottenham Hotspur.

It appeared as though Hudson-Odoi finally had a coach that
trusted him and was ready to unlock his vast potential. That is no
longer the case as starts have become sporad ic over the last two
months for the academy graduate.
Hudson-Odoi has been named in the side just three times since
the beginning of March with Reece James now Tuchel’s to-go at
right wing-back.

James is likely to start in the position against Fulham seeing as he
only played 24 minutes against Madrid.
Hudson-Odoi, meanwhile, should be trusted in the forward line
once again. He built his reputation as a devastating winger in the
Blues’ academy, often coming in off the left flank to threaten goal.
Chelsea supporters saw a glimpse of what Hudson-Odoi can do in
that role against Everton last month. It’s time for him to be given an
opportunity to build on that.

Hakim Ziyech

Tuchel admitted ahead of Tuesday’s game against Real Madrid that
the Morocco international was unfortunate not to start given his
performance in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.
“It was a close one to leave Hakim out because he deserved to
play, he was very decisive in the last games,” Tuchel said.

Fortunately, it does mean that Ziyech will be fresh to face Fulham
tomorrow. And if the 28-year-old was to start on the right of the
attacking three, it may enable Mason Mount to have a rare break
from the side.
Although with Mateo Kovacic a doubt due to injury and N’Golo
Kante’s fitness carefully managed by Tuchel, it wouldn’t be a huge
surprise to see Mount included in the double six alongside
Jorginho, as he was against Brighton.
Tammy Abraham
The last two months have been far from easy for Chelsea’s top

He suffered an ankle injury against Newcastle United in February
which forced him to miss seven matches and, after returning to full
fitness during the recent international break, was then overlooked
by Tuchel.

Abraham has continued to work hard in training, even doing extras
after Tuchel’s sessions are over.
And he appears to be winning over the German coach who said
ahead of last week’s win at West Ham: “He has struggled for
several reasons, one of the reasons are my decisions, of course.

“ But here are several other reasons, he was a bit unlucky, he was
injured, we talked about it because he struggled a bit to accept the
situation and he struggled a bit to find the solution to the situation,
he was a bit stuck between what he demands of himself, his
expectations about his role, and then the role he was suddenly in.

“Now I have the feeling that he has found the way to cope with it,
which I am very happy about, he produced very good training
sessions now in a row .”

Abraham was g iven a late run out at the London Stadium and was
then on the bench in midweek. He deserves a start, an opportunity
to prove himself.

Fulham at home is the ideal opportunity, especially given Timo
Werner and Kai Havertz are likely to be called upon against Real
Madrid next Wednesday.

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