Rudiger’s new role, Mendy reacts – Four things spotted in Chelsea training ahead of Leeds clash


Chelsea will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to life under head coach Thomas Tuchel when they travel to Elland Road to face Leeds United this lunchtime.

The Blues, who recovered from a goal down to beat the Whites 3-1 in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge back in December, will make the long trip to west Yorkshire looking to extend their unbeaten run under the former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain chief to 12 matches.

Tuchel watched his side continue their excellent run of form with a comfortable 2-0 win over Everton on Monday evening as an own-goal from Ben Godfrey and a second half penalty from Jorginho wrapped up a second successive win, following on from the 1-0 triumph over Liverpool at Anfield last Thursday.

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With that in mind, Chelsea’s stars will fancy their chances of keeping that winning run going this lunchtime against a Leeds side who have lost their last two matches without scoring.

However, Tuchel will be acutely aware of the challenge Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites will pose, meaning he will have left no stone unturned in his pre-match preparation, both tactically and in getting his players in the best possible shape ahead of the first of three big games in just over a week.

With that in mind, Tuchel was putting his players through their paces at their Cobham training base on Friday, ensuring they are razor-sharp for the challenges Leeds will pose.

But what did we notice from the session? Here are four things football.london spotted in the Blues’ final training session ahead of doing battle at Elland Road.

Mendy spreads himself

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy will soon be losing count of just how many clean sheets he has racked up in his maiden season in English football.

So far, the Senegalese international, who joined the Blues from Rennes last September, has 18 to his name this season, meaning he has proven to be an outstanding signing at £22million.

Whilst it is important to note that he has had an excellent defensive line in front of him in recent weeks, largely protecting him and his goal, he has delivered the goods when called into action.

Today, Mendy will face the likes of Patrick Bamford and Raphinha, who are most certainly not shy from shooting and having a crack.

Edouard Mendy's talents are put to the test. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).
Edouard Mendy’s talents are put to the test. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).

As you can see from the photograph above, Mendy was snapped testing his reflexes during training in the hope of registering his 19th shut out of the season and his fourth in a row in the Premier League.

Will he be able to add to his tally?

Rudiger ventures into new territory

As outlined above, Chelsea’s defensive rearguard has been nothing short of outstanding in recent weeks, racking up nine clean sheets in their first 11 matches under Tuchel.

That record has largely been down to the defensive heroics of Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma.

All of them, when called upon, have been superb at the back, quickly forming a solid understanding in the Blues’ new-look 3-4-2-1 system.

However, are Chelsea set to ask even more of their centre-backs in the weeks to come? Quite possibly, if Rudiger’s actions during yesterday’s training session are anything to go by.

The German centre-back appeared to be practising his volleying technique, as did Zouma, suggesting that Tuchel could be working on some new set-piece routines to allow his defenders to chip in with some goals.

Antonio Rudiger tests his shooting credentials. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).
Antonio Rudiger tests his shooting credentials. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).

Whether Rudiger hit the target or not with any of his efforts remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to see if any of these training ground routines feature on a matchday.

Havertz feels the cold

Although Easter is not too far away, the current temperatures in England are far from spring-like, with some areas of the country witnessing snow and hail storms on occasions this week.

And it appears that midfield ace Kai Havertz, who will be looking to retain his place in the starting line-up this lunchtime, has been feeling the effects.

Yesterday, Havertz was pictured sporting a wooly hat, just like his boss, to keep him as warm as possible as he was put through his paces.

Kai Havertz was fully focussed when in possession of the ball. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).
Kai Havertz was fully focussed when in possession of the ball. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).

As well as sporting a hat, the Germany international also had gloves on and tights under his shorts.

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Azpilicueta’s cast

Since the Blues’ impressive Champions League win over Atletico Madrid last month, defender Azpilicueta has been wearing a cast on his left hand.

Tuchel has never provided any information about why the Spaniard has been forced to wear it, meaning the problem in question cannot be too serious, as he has continued playing with minimal fuss.

But whilst he has been forced to wear one in the Blues’ recent matches, he has also had to wear it during training as well, just as he did yesterday.

Cesar Azpilicueta (left) trained at Cobham on Friday with no fuss. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).
Cesar Azpilicueta (left) trained at Cobham on Friday with no fuss. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).

One noticeable difference, though, was that he was wearing a white one instead of a blue one, which has been the theme against the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton recently.

Maybe the blue one is a lucky charm for matchdays only?





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