Enzo Fernandez problem: Mauricio Pochettino force to make tactical reshuffle in Burnley vs Chelsea clash

Enzo Fernandez problem: Mauricio Pochettino force to make tactical reshuffle in Burnley vs Chelsea clash

The seemingly never-ending injury crisis is all anyone with any sort of interest in Chelsea can talk about at the moment.

It is one of the most-feared, dreaded moments of the week when half an hour before Mauricio Pochettino conducts his pre-match press conference, the club’s official injury update is released to the public. This week, three new – or not so new when you consider the whole season – names were added to the list.

Carney Chukwuemeka, Robert Sanchez and Trevoh Chalobah all made the list on Thursday afternoon. And when ‘made the list’ is said, it is not meant to be a positive thing. ‘Slumped onto the list’ may be a more accurate reflection.

There are some players, three to be exact, who were not included in the horrible list but still need to be assessed to see whether or not they are fit enough to play. Enzo Fernandez arrived back in England in the early hours of Wednesday morning and has not yet trained with the rest of the squad.

Likewise, Cole Palmer and Ben Chilwell will both be assessed after representing England over the past fortnight. Missing Enzo could be a big problem for Pochettino, particularly given the lack of options the Argentine head coach has in that position.

“A few players also like Enzo didn’t arrive [to Thursday’s training session at Cobham],” Pochettino said in a busy pre-Burnley press conference dominated by injury news. “Today was a training session to put everyone at the same level and to check for tomorrow to prepare the game and see if they can be available.”

Romeo Lavia is missing for the remainder of the season after suffering yet another setback in his recovery, while fellow central midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu is still working on his fitness having been sidelined since Christmas Eve. If Enzo is not fit enough to take on Burnley, it leaves Pochettino incredibly short of options.

Conor Gallagher has been used as a No.10 in recent times for the Blues and, for the most part, has done well higher up the pitch. But there could be a case where the England international drops back into a double pivot alongside Moises Caicedo due to a lack of personnel.

Cesare Casadei has played just 34 minutes of action in the Premier League since being recalled by the club in January, but despite his lack of playing time, the Italian is a much-needed option at the weekend. Whether or not Pochettino will trust Casadei given such little time on the pitch over the past two months is another question.

 

If Gallagher is to drop back, it will allow another attacking option for Pochettino to choose. Noni Madueke has been in superb form for club and country over the last three games, scoring three goals and assisting the same amount over the small period, so there is a chance for him to come in on the right-hand side.

This would then allow Palmer to move centrally and it is then a decision of either Raheem Sterling or Mykhailo Mudryk on the left wing. Mudryk is yet to start a match in the Premier League in 2024 but given Sterling’s recent form and the reception he received from the Chelsea supporters last time out against Leicester City, Pochettino may be tempted to take the former Manchester City and Liverpool winger out of the limelight at the weekend.

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