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How Chelsea could line up against Udinese with Kante playing first pre- season clash as Tuchel looks for Strongest XI


N’GOLO KANTE is expected to return off the bench for Chelsea’s pre-season friendly against Udinese on Friday night.

Thomas Tuchel is set to field as strong a team as possible for the game, 24 hours before they face Udinese for a second time when fringe players will be given a chance.

How Chelsea are expected to line up against Udinese
Kante is set to come off the bench after missing most of pre-season
Kante is set to come off the bench after missing most of pre-season

French midfielder Kante, 31, missed Chelsea’s tour of the US due to his Covid vaccination status.

But he is set to be in the squad for Friday’s match and will almost certainly be given some game time.

Tuchel will likely line up with Edouard Mendy in goal and a star-studded back five consisting of Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, new signing Kalidou Koulibaly, and Marcos Alonso.

In midfield, Jorginho and Conor Gallagher are set to be the preferred pair behind Mason Mount, £50million man Raheem Sterling, and Kai Havertz.

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Trevoh Chalobah, Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic are among the other Chelsea players who will be pushing for a starting place.

But whoever begins the match, Tuchel will be keen to see a response from his team following their 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Arsenal last Sunday.

Speaking after the game about whether his team will be ready for their Premier League opener away at Everton on August 6, Tuchel admitted: “I cannot guarantee. I’m a huge fan of a strong pre-season in everything: atmosphere, feeling, performance, belief.

“I am far from relaxed. I think we deserved to lose [to Arsenal] – which is fair enough – because we were simply not good enough. We were absolutely not competitive

Another way Tuchel could choose to line up against Udinese
Another way Tuchel could choose to line up against Udinese

“The worrying part is the level of commitment, physically and mentally, for this match was not the same, it was far higher for Arsenal than us. It was simply not enough.

“We have a lot of players who are thinking about leaving and looking at their options.

“The analysing of last season does not change because of this game. Unfortunately, it proved my point and the last week proves my point.

“I would prefer to not be right and I did everything to prove myself wrong, but at the moment I feel I was right when I look where we struggled and how we struggled.

“We got sanctioned and players left us, we know that some players are trying to leave us, and this is where it is.

“We had an urgent appeal for quality players and a huge amount of quality players.

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“We’ve got two quality players – that is no doubt – but we are not competitive like this and unfortunately, we could see it today.”

Chelsea remain uncertain about the futures of a number of players just over one week out from the start of the new season.

Azpilicueta, Alonso, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are all being linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge before the summer window closes.



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