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Chelsea’s brutal six fixtures and when Thomas Tuchel could call on Harvey Vale again

This season will be full of challenges for Chelsea.

When you aim for the pinnacle of every competition you enter, it leads to a relentless schedule of two games per week and inevitably there will be some difficult runs in amongst that.

Even so, January already stands out as a month that could make or break the season for Thomas Tuchel’s men.

This season will be full of challenges for Chelsea.

When you aim for the pinnacle of every competition you enter, it leads to a relentless schedule of two games per week and inevitably there will be some difficult runs in amongst that.

Even so, January already stands out as a month that could make or break the season for Thomas Tuchel’s men.

After overcoming Brentford in the Carabao Cup, Chelsea move into the semi-final of the competition to face Tottenham over two legs.

That’s two extra fixtures for the month, against an improving Spurs side who are now home to former Blues boss Antonio Conte

Chelsea face Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, followed by Spurs in the Carabao Cup, Chesterfield in the FA Cup before the return leg against Tottenham, then travel to Manchester City before once again playing host to Tottenham.

If they’re successful in the FA Cup, the fourth round game will also be added to the schedule.

Tuchel’s side sit six points behind Man City and three behind Liverpool, and while the situation could change in the run up to those games, taking points from them will be crucial if Chelsea hope to mount a true challenge. Losing would prove a bitter blow.

Particularly as they would then head to the Club World Cup at the beginning of February.

Progress in two cup competitions will see the Blues be persistent in their quest for success this season, with it still possible to win five trophies this term.

Conte and Jurgen Klopp would prefer the Carabao Cup semi-finals to be single matches rather than two-legged affairs.

Following his team’s progression past Leicester, Klopp said: “I think it would be better with one game absolutely, but obviously what I say is not too important. If there are two games, then we will play two games. But it would be helpful if there was only one.”

Conte’s view was almost identical.

He said: “Honestly, if I had to decide, maybe it would be to play one game and not two games – especially, I repeat, for the situation we are living – but we have to respect the rules.”

Tuchel is likely to have a similar view, but has spoken of his excitement around the festive fixture list, despite Chelsea’s struggles to field their strongest side. He’s not quite faced anything like it before.

He said: “Not at Christmas, and not between Christmas and New Year, but this is actually quite exciting.

“It’s nothing new to play three matches in a week, but to play three matches in a week without nine or 10 players, that is challenging.

“The situation itself, we would love to be involved in all these competitions, and love to have the challenge with everybody. This is not the case, and so we struggle a little bit and need to find solutions. That’s why we’re here.”

The former Dortmund boss will have to take that attitude into January with him to galvanise the squad, and if the Blues continue their success, it will stand them in good stead for the rest of the season.

Either way it seems the FA Cup fixture on January 8th would be sensibly used to provide some rotation and experience for some of the young stars who featured against Brentford

The game comes between the two Carabao Cup legs, where Tuchel has traditional rotated, but the weekend game could provide the best opportunity in a tenacious schedule.

The likes of Harvey Vale, Jude Soonsup-Bell and Xavier Simons showed they had the ability to step into a rotated side, and the Blues should have faith to make use of them once again.

The under-23s next play two days following the FA Cup clash so it may be a limited call up for the youngsters however.

 

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