Thomas Tuchel is ready to throw Romelu Lukaku in for his Chelsea debut against Arsenal and expects N’Golo Kante to return from a minor injury.
However, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been part of Tuchel’s squad in pre-season, is out of the game on Sunday, August 22 after testing positive for coronavirus on Thursday.
After his side’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, Tuchel offered an update on the health and fitness of several of his players.
“N’Golo felt discomfort in his ankle in the warm-up for the Super Cup match with Villarreal,” Tuchel said. “He played a little bit with pain and overcame that pain.
“Yesterday (Friday), he felt pain and we took this match to take responsibility to take him out and not take risks at this stage of the season.
“I think N’Golo will be back in the middle of the week to be ready for Arsenal. Ruben has, unfortunately, had a positive test on Thursday. He is in isolation and following the protocol and that’s why he isn’t in the team.
“Romelu is out of quarantine [on Sunday] and in training on Tuesday as Monday is a day off. We will prepare him to be ready for Arsenal. Hopefully, he can be on the pitch.”
Chelsea also played a friendly with non-league side Weymouth on Sunday which they won 13-0 and involved a lot of players who have struggled for minutes in pre-season.
Tuchel also hinted that the £98 million ($136m) signing of Lukaku from Inter will allow him to experiment with new formations.
“With the addition of Romelu, we get our number one striker and we want to have him on the pitch,” he added. “If you do a transfer of this kind of volume, you are sure that you want him on the pitch.
“He will take the pressure off the shoulders from Kai [Havertz], Timo [Werner] and Christian [Pulisic] because Romelu is the kind of personality who wants responsibility and to lift the pressure off their shoulders.
“I am very happy with Timo, Kai and Christian because they play with a lot of intensity. With Romelu, we have a chance to play with two strikers as he did in Inter or to continue with three.
“We will see how things work and how they fight for their place.”