How Chelsea could line up against Brentford with Romelu Lukaku fit to start
15th October 2021

CHELSEA take on Brentford in the season's first west-London derby on Saturday as they look to cement their place at the top of the Premier League.

The Blues will make the short journey to the Brentford Community stadium to face the high-flying newly promoted side and know it'll be anything but an easy ride.

The Bees have been in impressive form since their return to the Premier League, sitting seventh with 12 points after seven games, only two points off the top six.

Thomas Frank's side have notched up wins against Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham and were more than a match for Liverpool in their thrilling 3-3 draw last month.

Chelsea have been outstanding at the back so far this season, conceding just three goals in seven games, but will be without two of their most senior centre-backs for Saturday.

Thiago Silva played 90 minutes in Brazil's World Cup qualifying win against Uruguay last night and it was hoped he might be able to make it back in time to feature.

But Blues boss Thomas Tuchel, 48, confirmed he will not be available, saying: "Thiago [Silva] will be back in the afternoon, hopefully safe from this match in Brazil.

"We had our talk and tactical training, he missed all that. He played 90 minutes and had 12 hours of travelling so that gives you the answer."

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The German head coach also made it clear that he was not best pleased with the situation, telling reporters: “Of course I’m not happy, I knew it before when he will come back.

"We knew before when he would travel so nothing new. I have got used to a lot of stuff in national breaks.

"This is how it is nowadays. Are we happy about it, all the coaches, with the amount of games our players play with their countries? We are not.

"Do they ask us? They do not. Also does it change anything ? Also not. I do not get in a bad mood because of this, I knew it before."

He also confirmed that Antonio Rudiger will miss out after sustaining an injury on international duty, adding him to a list of absentees also including Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.

The absence of Rudiger and Thiago Silva means captain Cesar Azpilicueta should return to the back three alongside Andreas Christensen and Trevoh Chalobah.

The Blues received a huge boost with Reece James and N'Golo Kante returning to training this week and both should be available to start on Saturday.

James withdrew from the England squad to recover from an ankle problem, meanwhile Kante missed France’s Nations League final triumph after testing positive for coronavirus.

Both should return to the starting XI alongside ever-presents Jorginho and Edouard Mendy, with Marcos Alonso likely to feature ahead of Ben Chilwell at left-wing back.

Despite Timo Werner's return to form after scoring twice for Germany last week, Tuchel looks set to stick with his trusted trio up front of Romelu Lukaku, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz.

Tuchel confirmed Lukaku is available despite withdrawing from the Belgium squad early with 'muscle fatigue' and should start having trained at Cobham this week.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek started his first league game of the season a fortnight ago in a 3-1 win against Southampton, but is unlikely to get in ahead of Kante or Kovacic alongside Jorginho.

As always, Tuchel will have options on the bench, with Ross Barkley and Saul Niguez likely keep their place as substitutes alongside whoever misses out from the starting XI.

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