What’s the latest team news?
“Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell will miss the game tomorrow. Callum still feels his Achilles a little bit and has some lower back problems. Everyone else was in training. It is always a challenge to come back after these breaks. Everyone was all around the world with different experiences, some of them very successful, some of them not. Some played a lot, others have jet lag. It’s always a challenge coming back. It’s time to regroup and go again tomorrow. “
Is Reece James ready to go tomorrow?
“Ready to go, Reece is in the squad for tomorrow.”
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Cesar Azpilicueta has triggered an extension in his contract, how pleased are you to have him at the club until 2023?
“I knew it was going to happen because I knew the amount of games before it was going to happen. It was so close. It’s a good thing, we were aware of it. It’s good news for us. We have a contract, he’s our captain, it’s a very high possibility he will stay. “
There were reports that Antonio Rudiger’s representatives met Barcelona this week. What are your thoughts and is that worrying?
“If it’s true, of course. I would try to meet him if I was at any other club. He’s still our player and we still think there’s a good chance he stays our player once things are solved. This situation is the situation at the moment, our hands are tied. We cannot speak or negotiate with him and his agent di lui. Fair enough if it’s true that he listens to other offers. That’s the way things go but I am still confident. “
What’s the latest you’ve been told on the next owner situation?
“Not sure if I could even tell you the names of the consortiums and new bidders. It is my information that it is down to four and in the next weeks should be further talks and negotiations. “
We understand prospective owners have the chance to meet you, is there a date for that yet?
“No, absolutely not. I’m not sure if they want to and I’m not sure if I should. I don’t know if it’s a good idea or a bad idea. Maybe it’s best to be involved – if I am involved – as late as possible. ”
Mikel Arteta was named Premier League manager of the month despite not having as strong results as yourself, do you find that a bit odd?
“No, it’s ok. It’s ok. I don’t worry. We can leave it like this: we win all the matches and I don’t get the award. I cannot be happier.”
Since we last spoke, the government has changed ticket rules around the FA Cup and Champions League for Chelsea supporters. But tomorrow only season ticket holders can attend, what do you make of that?
“From a team perspective and a sporting perspective, it would be perfect to have all our spectators in the stadium to support us. We are happy things change and we can have supporters at the FA Cup semi-final and in the Champions League. Tomorrow , everybody needs to step up and everybody has the responsibility to create a good atmosphere. We need our supporters and if we have a little bit less, they have to compensate for the ones missing. “
How is Jorginho after Italy’s failure to reach the World Cup?
“Good as always. To be very honest, I did not speak a lot with him about that. What could I say to make his pain go away? Nothing. And I would’ve been the 200th person to tell him, ‘come on , put your head up high ‘. Like always, it’s our job to create an environment and an atmosphere where the players feel welcome and safe no matter what happens outside. Of course, this happens in sport and it feels horrible for him and his teammates .
“Here is a safe place for him and this is how I’ve felt him. He has been very strong in training. He came in one day earlier than he needed to be. That’s why I had the feeling he loved to be back and be in this environment because it is a positive environment for players. ”
How difficult is it to plan for next season and are you at a disadvantage?
“It’s hard to guess how much of a disadvantage. It’s impossible though, that’s why we don’t do it. We focus on what we have right now and our next matches. So maybe it’s an advantage because we cannot get distracted and we deal with the disadvantage later when hopefully things are clear. ”
Are Thiago Silva and Christian Pulisic ready to start after their long trips during the international break?
“Thiago is a bit different to Christian. Thiago didn’t play the third match with Brazil and was back one day earlier. He didn’t have the same jet leg as Christian. Thiago was here yesterday and trained today and feels very good. So he is available for tomorrow. For Christian, we have to decide. He did not train today and we decided to give him another recovery session.
“He did not train with the team but he was here. He was very tired and had huge jet lag because he played one day ago – one-and-a-half days ago – like 85 minutes and he played all three matches for the US. We need to figure out if that makes sense and if it makes sense, for how many minutes it makes sense tomorrow. “
How much of a boost is it that Cesar Azpilicueta is now contracted until 2023?
“Well, I knew all the time that this is very likely to happen because he is a regular starter with us. I knew the number of games we needed to make him stay, to ensure his contract continued or extended. That’s why I am very happy. You know how much I rely on him and how much impact he has in this group and this club. It’s very good news for us. “
How pleased are you that in the Premier League next season you will be able to use five substitutes?
“It’s a brilliant decision – we were the only league did to do it in Europe so it is an excellent decision. I dare to say it is an excellent decision for everybody because I was also a coach for underdog teams long enough and I would have loved to have five substitutes to ensure more players play and increase or keep the intensity level or increase the intensity against stronger teams .
“For us, given the amount of games we play, the amount of competitions we play, the amount players who go away on international duty – and they go again in summer with Nations League – it is absolutely necessary to protect the players, to protect the quality and to use the full potential of tactical influences in the game. So, very good decision. “
There have been reports in Italy that Romelu Lukaku is unhappy and is keen to move back to Inter Milan in the summer, have you had the chance to speak to him during the international break?
“We don’t reflect on it. The situation at the moment is that we cannot talk to players, cannot sell, and cannot buy. At this moment, we don’t need to think about it. These are the players we have and Romelu still plays a big part in our plans. Not the part maybe he wants to play and I totally understand that, but he used his time to disconnect a little bit, had one week of a holiday, and then he was back with us.
“I feel him very motivated, very strong in training, very much involved when we do the games. He is a winner and he will stay a winner and stay important with us. He had a good match against Middlesbrough which was a huge boost for all of us and for him personally. And at the moment, there is no space for a bad mood and no space for disappointment. There is simply not. I checked the schedule last week and I knew this was the schedule but once it is in front of you, you see what’s coming. There are a lot of matches in the decisive weeks of the season. That’s why there is no space now for second thoughts, being distracted or disappointed. We need everybody, every player and that includes Romelu. “
You were given a hard time by Brentford in the return Premier League game earlier this season, what do you expect tomorrow given they are struggling a little bit more?
“Maybe it is also normal as a newcomer in the toughest league in the world. They expected maybe to not fly through the season as they started. When we played them in the first match, it was maybe one of the worst moments to play them because they were absolutely flying. They were full of positivity and belief, we played a very good match and struggled in the last 18 minutes like crazy and we needed to defend and a lot of luck to escape with three points.
“Then we had another match at Brentford in the Carabao Cup, we played very very well and learned from our first match. That’s the challenge for tomorrow. They played for a long period of the season in a back five, 5-3-2 , but they change in the last matches to a 4-3-3. Let’s see what they do tomorrow. They are still a very physical team, a very direct team. They still are a team that rely heavily on set pieces so we know about it and need to be ready. We expect a tough one again. ”
What have you made of Christian Eriksen’s return?
“I was not particularly following every little step but I am aware of the story. It is brilliant he is back and in the Premier League and he has the chance to enjoy football on this level, it is perfect news and a great story. “
Barcelona president Joan Laporte said this week that deals for a defender and midfielder have been agreed, is that defender Andreas Christensen?
“We heard the rumors. The same rumors [as you]. I have no confirmation for you as I did not speak to Andreas about it at the moment but we heard the same rumors, so. It’s like this. “