Thomas Tuchel says Trevor Chalobah is back to his best in training and has hinted he will rely heavily on the young defender for the rest of the season, starting in Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Arsenal on Wednesday night.
Chalobah, 22, was a regular fixture in the Blues side at the start of the season and made 19 appearances before January, when Tuchel says his form began to take a ‘dip’.
The Stamford Bridge academy graduate slipped out of contention and has not played a game since coming on as a sub in Chelsea’s Champions League last-16 win over Lille in March.
That means Chalobah has missed Chelsea’s last six matches, including both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid and Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace.
Tuchel insists competition is intense at the west London club but has suggested he is once again ready to call upon the England U21 star, as Chelsea look to finish the season by securing third-place in the Premier League and lifting the FA Cup.
Asked about Chalobah’s recent absence, Tuchel said: ‘It’s hard decisions at the moment. Maybe he thinks these decisions are against him but they are really for other players.
‘We had Reece James playing in that position in the back three because of his physicality and speed against key players on the left side from opponents.
‘Trevor played a lot and had a very good season so far. He had a little dip in form some weeks ago but since then he’s back in full shape in training.
‘We had a talk recently. I cannot prove it with game-time but he is exactly at the level where he was at the start of the season which is impressive because he’s overcome a period when he had some mistakes and was not so comfortable or reliable on the pitch.
‘But now he’s back and he needs to be patient because we have Thiago, Andreas, Reece.
‘This is the reason he’s not playing. But he’s taking it very well, he’s training has been excellent and he will see it in the next matches.’
Chelsea’s clash with struggling Arsenal will be played in front of a reduced crowd at Stamford Bridge following sanctions imposed on Blues owner Roman Abramovich.
While Chelsea are looking to secure third-place in the Premier League, Arsenal will be desperate to return to winning ways following three successive defeats and keep their top-four hopes alive.
Asked about facing Arsenal with a reduced crowd, Tuchel added: ‘That is not an advantage because in general we want to play in front of a full stadium and we want to play in front of spectators.
‘Let’s turn things around, maybe everyone is aware of that and pushes more. We lack quantity but we shouldn’t lack quality.
‘Against Leicester last season after Covid, it was like 5,000 and the players said it felt like a full stadium. So hopefully, we can have a spark that can bring everybody into a better mood.’
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