Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea : Three things spotted in Chelsea training for Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea : Three things spotted in Chelsea training for Nottingham Forest

Chelsea could end the weekend in sixth place and just three points behind Tottenham if results go their way. It is a set of circumstances that has looked improbable and largely impossible for much of the season.

However, a second-half fightback against Aston Villa bled confidence into the literally wounded squad as added reason to come together in back-to-back home London derbies. Little has the same positive impact as beating Tottenham, after all.

When they won the reverse fixture it came at the end of a positive run, rather than the start of a new one. Mauricio Pochettino will now be hoping that the rampant 5-0 victory over West Ham can be the new normal, rather than disappointing draws and sincere away batterings.

With seven wins in the last eight matches in all competitions at Stamford Bridge, and the other being a draw, there is still a chance to make Europa League places. Newcastle have the tricky challenge of facing Brighton at 3pm before the Blues travel to Nottingham Forest.

Manchester United are nothing less than massive underdogs against Arsenal, even at home. Tottenham, meanwhile, host Burnley. The likelihood of fate aligning itself to allow Chelsea the chance to finish fifth is small, but just being in with a shot is a boost.

There is now a spring in the step of players, a genuine smile on the faces of those at Cobham, and some growing belief in the stands that real change could be being witnessed. Taking a look behind the scenes from training images from Cobham, here is the highlights.

Centre-back union

Chelsea have had to deal with the season-ending injury to Wesley Fofana in many ways. One has been an overreliance on summer signing Axel Disasi.

Even he has struggled with fitness in the last month though, and has started just one of the last five league games – and that was a 5-0 defeat to Arsenal. In the meantime, Trevoh Chalobah has continued to impress since a return from injury.

He is unbeaten in league starts all season, winning four of his seven so far, including the 6-0 and 5-0 victories over Everton and West Ham. Chalobah’s form has coincided with Benoit Badiashile also working his way back to the levels that saw him labelled as one of the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital best buys.

The Frenchman has started each of the last three games along with Chalobah and the pair, as well as Disasi, were seen in good spirits at Cobham. Disasi and Chalobah shared a handshake with Badiashile gleaming on in the background. Pochettino will be hoping that the trio can secure three points and a clean sheet next.

Smiling Sterling

For a player that hasn’t started a game in the league for nearly two months, has suffered illness and injury, has lost their place as a national team regular, and is once more being discussed as a possible candidate to be sold in the summer, Raheem Sterling is doing well, it seems.

He has had a frustrating time of late and his last start in all competitions came in a game that he was booed off in. The 29-year-old remains upbeat despite his personal struggles though.

Sterling scored each of Chelsea’s three goals against Forest last season but isn’t expected to get the nod from the get-go at the City Ground this time. Nevertheless, he looks happy to be back in team training once more.

Caicedo’s new friend

If Chelsea’s brief turnaround in the past few weeks has been a surprise then one of the key figures behind it is even more so. After a torrid 18 months at Chelsea, nobody had Marc Cucurella down as the answer to the problems.

The Spaniard has not only filled in for the injured Ben Chilwell and Levi Colwill, but he has taken on a role in midfield when in possession that Enzo Fernandez would have been proud of. Although not offering the same cutting-edge and range of passing, Cucurella has cut out some of the gaps around Caicedo, making his job easier.

At the Surrey-based complex he appeared to be taking that new relationship a step further. Positioning himself in front of Caicedo in two images, Cucurella seemed to be taking his screening role to new lengths, getting extremely close to his Ecuadorian teammate.

The pair have more work to do together as they seek to finish the season strongly but for now their relationship is one to file under ’emerging and promising’.

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