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“My number one”: Tuchel issues clarification on key Chelsea position after springing a surprise against Newcastle

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Chelsea signed Edouard Mendy in the summer

Thomas Tuchel: Edouard Mendy is still the first-choice Chelsea goalkeeper

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel raised eyebrows when he picked Kepa Arrizabalaga to start over Edouard Mendy in Monday’s Premier League clash against Newcastle United.

It was the Spaniard’s first Premier League start since the 3-3 draw against Southampton in October. He has since been limited to only FA Cup appearances.

Kepa started off nervously and was lucky not to be punished by Allan Saint-Maximin. He improved thereafter and made crucial saves from Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock. It was just his third clean sheet of the season.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel picked Kepa Arrizabalaga over Edouard Mendyagainst Newcastle (Image Credits: @kepa_46/Twitter)

Asked on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football (h/t Football.london) if Kepa is to be his preferred goalkeeper going forward, Tuchel was clear in his answer. Mendy is still the first-choice goalkeeper and there has been no change in that aspect.

 “Edou is the number one.”

While Mendy is expected to return in goal against Southampton, Kepa will be heartened by the opportunities he is receiving. Upon taking over Tuchel confirmed that every player would be given an opportunity to impress and he has been true to that word.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel raised eyebrows when he picked Kepa Arrizabalaga to start over Edouard Mendy
Edouard Mendy is still Chelsea’s first choice goalkeeper

A new beginning!

The world’s most expensive goalkeeper, Kepa’s confidence has taken a beating following a season of mishaps in 2019/20. Playing him against a rather abject Newcastle side is the first step in helping him regain his confidence.

“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.”

Tuchel for one was pleased with the keeper’s performance and is keen to see him build up his morale. After all, it was seven months ago that he last kept a clean sheet in the league at home.

Chelsea star Kepa Arrizabalaga has been backed to return to his best
Kepa can treat Tuchel’s reign as a fresh start

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It is debatable if Kepa will go on to fulfil the hype that surrounds his price tag. The Spaniard is, however, a competent player and could still salvage his career.

Tuchel, to his credit, has managed the situation well. So far, it has been a win-win for all parties involved.

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Chelsea receive injury boost as 20-year-old ace could be available for Liverpool clash

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Callum Hudson-Odoi linked with a move to Bayern Munich again.

Chelsea injury boost as Callum Hudson-Odoi could be fit to face Liverpool

Chelsea are set to have Callum Hudson-Odoi fit for the Liverpool clash during the midweek (via Daily Star h/t Metro). While most of the attention on him was due to the handball incident, he was taken off at half-time, very likely due to an injury concern.

Later, it was shown that the youngster was sitting on the benches with an ice pack strapped around his left thigh. While Thomas Tuchel did confirm it was a minor injury, he also said that the winger was taken off for tactical reasons.

Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea during the Premier League behind closed doors match between Chelsea and Manchester United, ManU at Stamford Bridge, London, England on 28 February 2021.

‘[He was] a little bit injured. The reason [he was replaced] was a tactical reason and a little injury, a combination, because we switched to a back-five in defence and covered the wide position from [Marcus] Rashford in between [Cesar] Azpilicueta and Reece James. In the second half, that was not an option to use Callum there and that’s why it was a tactical choice.’

However, he is now making good progress with his injury and could be in line to face Liverpool on Thursday. The only other injury concern remaining is Thiago Silva and he is likely to miss the game.

Chelsea’s English midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League football match between Krasnodar and Chelsea at the Krasnodar stadium in Krasnodar on October 28, 2020. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

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Hudson-Odoi has prominently featured in Thomas Tuchel’s plans and been deployed at wing-back so far. The 20-year-old has done well in that role after overcoming his problems in the Southampton game. Tuchel will be hoping to have him fully fit for the vital game.

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Young Chelsea star emerges as summer target for West Ham

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Tammy Abraham scored the only goal of the game against Barnsley in the FA Cup 5th round fixture. (GETTY Images)

Tammy Abraham wanted by West Ham as Chelsea future hangs in the balance

According to Daily Star, Chelsea ace Tammy Abraham is being eyed by West Ham as a possible summer target. West Ham are also looking at Eddie Nketiah and Ivan Toney as other possible signings.

Tammy Abraham’s future is in limbo after being left out of the squad against Manchester United. The academy graduate is mulling over a new contract but wants to see whether Chelsea commit to signing Erling Haaland in the summer.

Dortmund’s Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland warms up ahead the German first division Bundesliga football match between SC Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund in Freiburg, southwestern Germany, on February 6, 2021. (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

West Ham have a dearth of strikers after letting go of Sebastien Haller in January and not being able to sign a replacement. They even had a move for Youssef En-Nesyri turned down. However, the Hammers want to bring in one striker to provide competition and support for Michail Antonio.

Chelsea are also in a spot with Abraham, given he is their top-scorer this season but has featured much less under Thomas Tuchel. The German manager has preferred to use Olivier Giroud as well as Timo Werner.

Thomas Tuchel celebrates with Tammy Abraham after his goal was enough to put Chelsea through to the 6th round of the FA Cup.
Thomas Tuchel celebrates with Tammy Abraham after his goal was enough to put Chelsea through to the 6th round of the FA Cup. (GETTY Images)

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While Abraham may yet have more than two years on his existing deal, it looks increasingly likely that they could let him go. The Blues are actively pursuing Haaland and that could push Abraham further down the side. There is no shortage of interest in the striker, with Aston Villa also said to be interested.

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Chelsea transfer boost as St. Etienne prepare £22m sale of 17-year-old rising talent

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Chelsea transfer boost as St. Etienne prepare Lucas Gourna-Douath sale

According to FootMercato (h/t The Sun), St. Etienne are ready to sell Lucas Gourna-Douath, who has been linked to Chelsea. The French side are willing to sanction a deal for the 17-year-old if a bid of £22million comes in.

As one of the rising stars in Ligue 1, Gourna-Douath has become a vital part of St. Etienne. He has already played for the senior side 23 times this season. A deep-lying central midfielder, manager Claude Puel wants him to stay at the club for a long time. Even the player is interested in the same.

Lucas Gourna Douath 33 – Saint Etienne – FOOTBALL : Reims vs Saint Etienne – Ligue 1 – Reims – 09/01/2021 FedericoPestellini/Panoramic.

However, due to the economic impact of the pandemic, the French side are willing to let him as well as a few more players, go. The club sold the likes of Wesley Fofana and William Saliba in the summer and it could continue with Gourna-Douath.

There will be competition for the Blues though, with AC Milan and RB Leipzig also interested in the youngster. The player’s representatives are preparing for any possible move including one to England.

Claude Puel avec Lucas Gourna-Douath et Julien Sable avec Maxence Rivera entraineur saint etienne FOOTBALL : AS Saint Etienne vs Nimes Olympique – Ligue 1 Uber Eats – 20/12/2020 FredericChambert/Panoramic.

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While Chelsea don’t really need any more central midfielders for the first-team, Lucas Gourna-Douath can be a good addition to their flourishing academy. Chelsea have promoted players from the academy in recent times and the same could be followed for him in case Chelsea can strike a deal.

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European giants set to make decision on the future of Chelsea loanee at the end of the season

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AC Milan to make Fikayo Tomori decision at the end of this season

According to Football.london, AC Milan are likely to sign Fikayo Tomori on a permanent basis at the end of the season if he continues to impress. The Chelsea academy graduate went on loan to the Italian side in January and Milan have an option to sign him permanently next season.

Tomori found game time hard to come by under the latter days of Frank Lampard. With the arrival of Thiago Silva, Tomori was sidelined as Kurt Zouma was preferred ahead of the English starlet.

Antonio Rudiger in action for Chelsea against Krasnodar in the UEFA Champions League. (GETTY Images)
Antonio Rudiger is a regular for Chelsea under Tuchel (GETTY Images)

AC Milan came for his services and took him on loan till the end of this season. However, they hold a £26.6m to-buy clause which they can choose to exercise at the end of the season.

Tomori has impressed massively for the Milan giants and it looks very likely that he could make the move permanent in the summer. Milan director Paolo Maldini, who was instrumental in securing Tomori’s signature, spoke about a permanent move for him.

“Fikayo has particular characteristics, intensity, speed. In our opinion, it was a possible reinforcement for this season finale. There is an option to buy, it is very high, it will be an assessment between now and the end of the season whether to exercise it or not. It is a fairly clear situation.”

Fikayo Tomori of Milan in action during the serie A soccer match AS Roma vs Ac Milan in the Olympic stadium in Rome, Italy, 28 February 2021. Fotografo01 PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xFotografo01x/xIPAx/xFotografo01x 0

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New manager Thomas Tuchel has mostly used the likes of Silva, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta at centre-back. It looks very likely that Tomori has no future at Chelsea. With his impressive showings for Milan, the club are also very likely to make his stay a permanent one.

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