Thomas Tuchel has admitted it’s likely that Romelu Lukaku will make his second Chelsea debut against Arsenal on Sunday, but Christian Pulisic will not feature after testing positive for coronavirus.
Lukaku re-signed for the Blues for a club-record fee last week but did not feature in his new side’s Premier League opener against Crystal Palace.
The forward has since said he is ready to face the Gunners and Tuchel reaffirmed this message in his pre-match press conference.
He also addressed a range of other topics, including the future of breakout star Trevoh Chalobah, and the role Hakim Ziyech could play this season.
“We have one more training session to go but the week was a heavy load. He was with the group with the late starters, so it was an overload week so far.
“Today was low intensity and tomorrow we will have an important session before the match. We hope he will be on the pitch on Sunday and it looks likely.”
“Is Romelu the missing piece? We hope but at the same time we try to find solutions to any questions asked in games.
“We still have a strong squad and a squad that makes a team effort. Romelu is that kind of personality and profile that we were missing up front. From now, it’s our job to push ourselves to the limit.”
He added: “I think with his physical power, being so fast, being a true goalscorer, I think it’s a unique and new experience for me as a coach. He’s a nice guy. We’re a good group and it’s important to be a good and democratic group. This is a good fit for us. Let’s hope it stays that positive.”
“Christian has unfortunately had a positive test and needs to follow the protocols. He’s not been training and is not available for the game.
“Hakim and N’Golo both trained yesterday so we need to have more physical intense session tomorrow and decide tomorrow. Right now, it seems very positive that both can be in the squad for Sunday.”
“He did a fantastic pre-season with us. He is a top player and a top character. He took his chance very impressively. He played very good matches in pre-season, performed for 120 minutes against Villarreal and another strong 90 minutes against Crystal Palace. It’s logical that he stays here. He is a guy we want to keep and this is his status.”
Asked whether Chalobah may play in midfield in the future, Tuchel said: “At one time we will maybe try it. There is some stuff to improve at this level when you have to open spaces so quickly, it’s a big difference between playing in midfield and defence.
“Hopefully we don’t need to try it but we have this in mind. We spoke on the pitch about it because he was doing a good ball possession in the middle of the pitch as he could maybe be the fourth solution. Not isn’t the time to confuse him and try to many roles as he’s settled into the back three.”
“He was decisive in every friendly and in the Super Cup against Villarreal. It was unfortunate he got injured but now we have to take care with him. We’re happy he’s back on the pitch but a shoulder injury can be tricky. Tomorrow is decisive for him and we’ll see how things go.
“The good thing is that with a shoulder injury you can still keep your fitness. He has training in his legs. Once he feels totally free, hopefully he can find his performances from pre-season very quickly.”