Chelsea possible line-up vs Arsenal with major injury boost
Mauricio Pochettino has nearly two weeks to prepare for the biggest test of his Chelsea management so far. He has managed to steady the ship somewhat in the past fortnight, winning three on the bounce, but a tough run of fixtures lies ahead and it could define the season.
Chelsea will need all the rest and recovery they can get in the coming weeks as they set up to face Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Newcastle and Brighton in the next six weeks. For Pochettino it comes at an okay time as returning players start to enter the squad once more.
Despite being without over £ 400 million worth of players, the club captain and often reduced to academy players to fill the bench, Chelsea are still within touching distance of some of their rivals. Nine points from the top, Chelsea are only two points away from Newcastle and can make some serious headway in the coming weeks if they keep up the good form and take advantage of not having European commitments.
As well as this, Chelsea are also getting stronger and stronger by the week, or so it seems. Armando Broja returned for the final three games ahead of the international break and scored his first goal in nine months whilst Raheem Sterling also shrugged off an illness to bounce back with involvements in all four goals against Burnley. Both will be in contention to start when Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal visit Stamford Bridge.
Broja will be competing with Nicolas Jackson for a spot up front and could be handed another start after he wasn’t heavily involved during the first half against Burnley. Jackson scored his second in as many games, taking his tally up to three for the season, but was seen with strapping to his wrist.
The 22-year-old has now withdrawn from the Senegal squad for the upcoming fixtures after a minor operation on his hand. It is unlikely to massively affect his chances of being involved against Arsenal and after building up some form is the perfect chance for him to continue his little burst.
The break will also provide the chance for Reece James to continue his recovery. The right-back has been out of proceedings since the end of August with injury but was close to a return before being banned by the FA for events in the tunnel against Aston Villa last month.
Although he’s short on gametime there’s a chance to come back immediately after a prolonged recovery period. Malo Gusto has deputised well for James but missed the last three games with a suspension also picked up during the Villa clash, he will be available once more and may well start in order to help build James back up to speed.
The midfield is set to stay the same with Romeo Lavia not yet close to a return to the side after his knock picked up during the last international break. The defence could yet have more change though after Axel Disasi was called up and swiftly removed from France’s squad.
The 25-year-old has started every league game under Pochettino so far but played through injury at Turf Moor, it is reported. Disasi has trouble with his quadricep and is a doubt for the game but could keep his place if the next 10 days go in his favour.
Meanwhile, Christopher Nkunku may well be wishing he was available for this type of match but his return is still a little way off despite a positive message being posted online. Nkunku is advancing with his gym work and has been seen kicking a ball inside once more. It’s a small step for now but it offers a mini boost to those still waiting to watch him play for the first time.
Possible Chelsea XI: Sanchez; James, Disasi, Silva, Cucurella; Fernandez, Caicedo, Gallagher, Palmer, Sterling, Jackson