Chelsea’s stars will be making their way back to Cobham ready to settle back in training ahead of the Blues’ clash with Brentford on Saturday.
Apart from Thiago Silva, of course, who does not play until the early hours of Friday morning.
Thomas Tuchel and co. head into another crucial period in the Premier League title race as they face Norwich, Newcastle and Burnley following the Bees, leaving the perfect opportunity for Chelsea to pile the pressure on their rivals.
International breaks rarely run smoothly as players move across the club and only a small contingent are left to prepare under the eye of their club coach.
From knocks and substitute appearances to impressive performances and maybe the odd chance to rest.
football.london takes a look at the winners and losers from the last 10 or so days below:
Kai Havertz and Timo Werner
The German duo had quite the time away with Germany as they sealed their qualification for the World Cup with victories of Romania and North Macedonia.
Havertz opened the scoring against the latter side, while Werner bagged a brace on the way to a comfortable 4-0 win. Former Chelsea youngster Jamal Musiala even completed the scoring.
The former RB Leipzig forward has now netted fives times in his last five appearances under Hansi Flick and is enjoying the benefit of a regular run of games.
“When the coach relies on you, it helps every player,” Werner said in a press conference on Germany duty.
“I need this trust from the outside. He (Flick) gives me that 100%. I try to repay that. That has worked well in four out of the five games.”
Tuchel is a manager who likes to use his in-form players, and given the quality of Werner’s run to score against Southampton, it would be a surprise for the 48-year-old coach not to start his compatriot.
Havertz might have even pushed himself into the mind of his boss, who had been concerned about the German’s ability to ‘be decisive’ ahead of leaving him on the bench against the Saints.
There can be no doubting that Chalobah has had an outstanding rise and firmly put himself into Chelsea’s rotation in defence. The 22-year-old’s freshness will be well needed against Brentford with his defensive partners all on international duty.
Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta have all been away from Cobham and have had heavy schedules over the last 12 months, while Chalobah once again can receive the benefit of being under Tuchel’s tutelage like he was at the start of pre-season.
Given Silva’s likely absence over the weekend, Antonio Rudiger missing Germany’s second World Cup qualifier and the uncertainty of Reece James being match-fit for the weekend, Chalobah has a real opportunity to establish himself with another impressive performance and to put himself in a position where he is difficult to drop.
The Frenchman was absent from France duty as they won the Nations League, due to the period he needed to stay in isolation following his positive Covid-19 test. Kante may in himself feel a bit of a ‘loser’, but Chelsea’s restless dynamo finally had an opportunity to take a bit of a break.
Providing he wasn’t too restricted by his illness, the Ballon d’Or contender should be pretty much back up to speed for the trip to Brentford and have been afforded a productive rest period that he otherwise would not have been able to indulge ahead of a busy October period.
Hopefully, that can be the start of Kante avoiding the niggles and knocks he has picked up in recent months.
It’s difficult to know how the international break has panned out for Ziyech.
The former Ajax wizard was struggling to find form coming into the break and was left on the bench against Southampton while the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley earned opportunities instead.
The 28-year-old has thrived under the eye of Tuchel in the past, in the smaller group that started pre-season, and was even afforded a chance following the last international break, against Aston Villa. The pitch time Havertz and Werner have received, players competing with Ziyech, and the goals they have scored may have energised them with confidence that Tuchel hopes his team thrive on.
“We always try to do our best to get the players in the best shape but at some point, after a lot of chances, we have to admit that Kai and Hakim are not in their very best shape,” noted Tuchel.
The Blues boss continued: “They have maybe lost a bit of belief, confidence, whatever. We will not stop trying to boost them.
“Nobody is angry at them and nobody has major concerns, but we have to pay attention to the actual form.”
The Moroccon may still start against the Bees, but it is hard to prove form without playing which could mean Werner and Havertz have gained an edge during the international break. It all depends if Tuchel can be convinced Ziyech can replicate his early-season form, through training against those players who remained at Cobham and the academy stars brought in to keep them on their toes.
It will have been a frustrating period for Chelsea’s talismanic defender. Having missed training on Sunday, Rudiger then did not face North Macedonia the following day leaving him in an uncertain position.
Flick explained: “It was a precautionary measure for Toni Rüdiger. The final training was more a matter of regeneration anyway. So it was okay for him was in the hotel.”
However, Rudiger did not sufficiently recover from his back injury to be involved in the matchday squad.
He’s played more minutes for the Blues than any of his teammates this season, but may see that gap closed if he is struggling for fitness.
Any lingering injury could also impact his bargaining ability for any new deal the defender may sign.
Perhaps more of a loss for Chelsea than the defender himself as Silva is unlikely to return until Saturday, when Chelsea play Brentford.
The Brazilian picked up his 100th cap during the break and started against Venezuela before coming off the bench in place of Eder Militao against Colombia. You might suspect he had been intended to be rested for that fixture.
The veteran is expected to start against Uruguay on Friday morning, leaving plenty of minutes in his legs before returning to the Blues, who have another five fixtures before the month is out.
Christensen can no doubt pick up the slack, but could also establish himself as the first-choice central defender if given the opportunity.
Source by Football London