Chelsea will be without key defensive duo Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva for the game against Southampton on Saturday at Stamford Bridge (Watch live, 10am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Frank Lampard has confirmed when giving the Chelsea team news.
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Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Lampard revealed that new goalkeeper Mendy injured his thigh while training with Senegal on international duty and Thiago Silva has only just returned from representing Brazil in CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
“Mendy won’t be fit for this game but we hope he won’t be out for too long,” Lampard said regarding the Chelsea team news. “Thiago Silva after his trip [with the Brazil national team], is not in the squad. He’s not unfit but he’s not ready to play in the weekend’s game due to the travelling he’s done. Ben Chilwell is in the squad. He’s got over some of the feelings with the injury he has had for a while that took him out of England squad, so he’s available for tomorrow. Christian Pulisic is in the squad, he’s fit and ready, and Hakim Ziyech is also in the squad. He’s not fit to start but is fit enough to participate in some way, we hope.”
So, a few positives, especially with Chilwell back fit and Pulisic ready to start and Ziyech ready to play for the first time this season. But the main focus will be on Chelsea missing two key figures who have shored up their previously shaky defensive unit.
Is now the time to bring Kepa back from the cold?
Kepa Arrizabalaga was dropped by Lampard for veteran goalkeeper Willy Caballero on several occasions last season and at the start of this season, as Chelsea then signed new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy as Kepa’s time appeared to be up.
The Spanish international goalkeeper, who cost $94 million in the summer of 2018, remained at Chelsea and didn’t move on during the transfer window and now he could come in from the cold. Is that the right decision? Is Kepa in the right frame of mind, knowing that even if he plays well against Southampton he will be out of the team as soon as Mendy is fit, which will probably be in a few weeks.
This is a tough one for Lampard to manage but he has been supportive of Kepa throughout his recent struggles and seemed happy enough to keep him around as a back-up or third-choice goalkeeper.
Contenders to start at center back in Thiago’s place
With Thiago Silva out, Lampard has plenty of options at center back to partner Kurt Zouma who has played pretty well so far this season.
Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Fikayo Tomori are all options, while Cesar Azpilicueta could come in at center back with Reece James in fine form at right back. Simply put: Lamps has options.
He was upbeat when asked about Rudiger, saying the German international still has a future at the club despite being close to sealing a move away on transfer deadline day.
With Danny Ings and Che Adams buzzing around, playing Rudiger alongside Zouma could be a good move as they can cover one another well but there’s no doubt that Chelsea will miss Silva and Rudiger’s experience will be important. That said, Tomori played well when he came on against Liverpool recently and probably deserves a chance to play.