Injury Crisis: Mauricio Pochettino may have to make vital changes to the system against Newcastle

Injury Crisis: Mauricio Pochettino may have to make vital changes to the system against Newcastle

Mauricio Pochettino shocked everybody last weekend against Brentford as he elected to go with a back-three for Chelsea.

Trevoh Chalobah, Axel Disasi and Levi Colwill started in a three-back formation for the Blues in their draw at the Gtech Community Stadium. Brentford consistently go with a three-at-the-back formation under Thomas Frank, but Pochettino said after the game that it was not necessarily to combat the Bees.

Asked by his thinking behind playing three central defenders, Pochettino replied: “It was to try and provide the team a different way to play and to have an alternative in the way to use. We need to provide the midfield the possibility not to cover too much distance.

“[Conor] Gallagher didn’t start against Leeds [a few days before] because he was very, very tired. Because players like [Romeo] Lavia was supposed to be a very good player, and of course Lesley Ugochukwu. They are injured and we don’t have the possibility to refresh players that are in a key area. That is why to help them with another centre-back.

“It’s always keeping our ideas going forward, but to try and provide them with more solid and the difference in transition and gives them more freedom and not too much responsibility.”

After that game against Brentford, not that Pochettino knew at the time, Colwill was holding a slight injury to his toes. The 21-year-old defender has been ruled out for Monday evening’s Premier League meeting with Newcastle United, leaving Pochettino with a bit of a dilemma.

If the Argentine wants to go with a three-back system once again, then it would have to be Chalobah, Disasi and Thiago Silva, who has just returned from injury. Because of his age and lack of speed nowadays, Silva would likely be the middle centre-back but it means Chalobah or Disasi would have to go on the left-hand side.

Chalobah has done that before under previous managers but it is not the most natural position for the right-footed Cobham academy graduate. There could also be a slight issue at left wing-back as well.

Ben Chilwell, like Colwill, hurt himself in the draw at Brentford. The Chelsea vice-captain picked up a knee injury, although the severity of the problem is not known yet with the left-back needing to see a specialist.

Marc Cucurella returned to the Chelsea squad for the draw against their west London rivals last weekend but has not played a minute of football since December. Playing in the left wing-back role is more physically demanding than being on the side of an orthodox back-four and because of the Spaniard’s lack of football recently, Pochettino may be slightly concerned about this.

There could be scope for Pochettino to return to a back-four, not least because the three-back did not work entirely as planned against Brentford last time out. Either way, Monday night represents a huge match for the Argentine, who was the subject of some pretty damning chants eight days ago.

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