Chelsea assistant hoping Tuchel can return to make Mendy or Kepa decision

Dan Butterfield
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga

Chelsea assistant Zsolt Low is hoping manager Thomas Tuchel will be able to make it to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup final.

Tuchel tested positive for Covid last week meaning he has had to isolate and has missed the FA Cup win over Plymouth as well as the Club World Cup semi-final win over Al-Hilal.

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However, Low is hoping his boss will be able to make it to the middle-east for the final on Saturday against Brazilian side Palmerias.

“We hope he can come. We have 30 hours to the game. He has followed the rules and protocols and there is still a lot of time. We hope he can come but if not we are well prepared, we have had a lot of meetings. We’ve talked about the game, we analysed the game and will see what we can do better. We’re absolutely clear what to do better in the second game.”

“Thomas will absolutely want to be here. The whole club wants that. We hope he can make it. We have 30 hours. Every test can be negative and with one he can fly and join the group.”

Chelsea are big favourites for the clash but Low has played down claims that the European Champions have a big advantage going in the game.

“We are not in charge of the tournament. We’ve followed the tournament rules. We are here to play and our preparation wasn’t easy. We played 120 minutes [against Plymouth] and had a long trip with a big time difference. In the first few days we fought hard to find a good rhythm and find energy for the players again.

“Then we play Al Hilal, it was very difficult to beat them, then two days to prepare for the final. It’s not an exclusive situation. We have the rhythm. We prepare as best as possible. We don’t try to find excuses but don’t see big advantage right now.”

Low has also admitted they have a decision to take over who will start in goal for the Blues on Saturday.

First-choice ‘keeper Edouard Mendy has been away at AFCON with Senegal but has now returned on the back of winning the tournament.

However, Kepa Arrizabalaga has impressed in his absence, saving a late penalty against Plymouth before keeping a clean sheet in the semi-final.

“We’re very proud of Edou. The whole squad was happy he won the Africa Cup. He arrived in a very good mood. He always has a big smile on his face. He’s very important to the group and he gives a lot of energy.

“He was a little tired the first day, needed to recover and a good sleep, but he is fully involved in training. We’re very happy that he’s healthy and absolutely in good shape with good experience behind him. He’s ready to play the game.

“We’re very happy with both goalkeepers. It’s a comfortable situation to have both goalkeepers like this. Now Edou is back he is fresh, we have to take the decision tonight. We’ll talk to Thomas about it.

“The final decision will be some hours before the game but if we decide for one or the other the one on the bench has nothing to be worried or sad about. Both goalkeepers had a big performance in last weeks. This is why it’s a question just for this game. Tonight or latest tomorrow.”