Christensen, James, Chalobah: Chelsea injury news ahead of crucial top-four Tottenham clash

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After seeing their title challenge likely coming to an end with a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City earlier this month, Chelsea now face Tottenham Hotspur with a chance of being dragged into a top-four race that they might not have expected to be in.

Thomas Tuchel’s side have now gone four league games without a win in the Premier League, two of which came against Brighton. Despite Chelsea dispatching Spurs comfortably in the double-legged Carabao Cup semi-final, their league form is a concern for Tuchel and his players.

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“We won twice against Tottenham in between [in the Carabao Cup] and had some other tough fixtures. I can’t even tell you the last seven games in the league so I have no answer,” Tuchel said when asked about recent dip in form.

“So, so badly. You can say it is an excuse or whatever but it’s like this. Look at our schedule, when we arrived at Man City we had the Carabao Cup in the week and they did not. Now we arrive here and they have more days to prepare and the whole week before to prepare.”

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In three games against Tottenham this season, Chelsea have been victorious on each occasion, scoring six goals and conceding none, but given that Antonio Conte’s side can move to within five points of the Blues with four games in hand should they win on Sunday, Tuchel needs a strong performance from his players.

With that in mind, here is the latest Chelsea injury news before a crucial top-four clash.

Andreas Christensen

Central defender Andreas Christensen has missed the last two games against Manchester City and Brighton due to a positive Covid-19 test. It was hoped he would return for Sunday’s contest with Spurs, however Tuchel has confirmed the Denish international will miss the match once more.

What Thomas Tuchel has said: “No. He is not with the team yet. We hope he is back in training next week.”

Expected return: Plymouth Argyle (A) – February 5

Trevor Chalobah

Trevor Chalobah was absent from the defeat to Manchester City and midweek draw with Brighton due to an ongoing hamstring issue he has been dealing with since the 2-2 draw with Liverpool.

He did, however, return to training this week, though Sunday’s game is due to come too soon for him to make his return, Tuchel has confirmed.

With defensive injuries across the back five, especially at wing-back and with Christensen still absent through Covid-19, Chalobah’s absence has been hard-felt by Chelsea and Tuchel, who will be eager to welcome him and the other defensive options back to the team as quickly as possible.

What Thomas Tuchel has said: “Trevoh Chalobah is back in team training but also way too early to play the game on Sunday at this kind of level. So actually nobody is coming back, it’s the same squad.”

Expected return: Plymouth Argyle (A) – February 5

Reece James

It was feared Reece James would miss an extended period of the season, including potentially the entire campaign, after he suffered a hamstring injury last week.

But football.london reported this week that the England international had stepped up his recovery from the injury, which Tuchel confirmed yesterday.

James will not return for Sunday, and Tuchel would not be drawn on an official timetable for his return, but the fact he is back in training is undoubtedly a major boon for Chelsea given their weaknesses in the wing-back positions in his absence.

What Thomas Tuchel has said: “We have a timeframe [on Reece’s return] but we will not make it public because we will just get asked about the timeframe.

“He is back on the pitch which is good news, but he is in individual training so far away from being a part of the squad for Sunday.”

Expected return: N/A

Ben Chilwell

Chelsea are not expecting left wing-back Ben Chilwell to return to the squad this season after he underwent knee surgery earlier this season.

The left wing-back was beginning to shine in Tuchel’s formation, offering the ideal foil to James’ quality and power on the opposite flank, and his long-term absence will be hard felt as Chelsea rely on Marcos Alonso to cover.

What Thomas Tuchel has said: “Chilly of course has had his surgery and he has our best wishes and all of our energy to come back healthy and as soon as possible.

“Unfortunately it seems like the season is over for him.”

Expected return: Summer 2022

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