If you want to remain genuine title contenders for a prolonged period of time, injuries to one or two players shouldn’t be enough to throw you off-track. Squad depth is as important as anything else, and there must always be reinforcements who can come in and stand-in ably for injured teammates.
At Chelsea, this is clearly not the case. Alvaro Morata and N’GoloKante, undoubtedly two very important players, are going to be out for a while. In their first game without the duo, the Blues succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, in the Premier League on Saturday. Before this game, in their opening seven matches, Palace hadn’t scored a single goal en route to losing every single one of them.
There are clear problems at Stamford Bridge. With two consecutive defeats, Chelsea have dropped out of the top 4 and are already 9 points behind leaders Man City. It may early doors, but it already looking like a very uphill task for Antonio Conte’s men to retain their crown.
The biggest issue
It is difficult to see where the goals are going to come from for Chelsea, with Morata our injured. MichyBatshuayi started the game yesterday, and offered close to nothing. He also failed to link up with Eden Hazard, thereby making it difficult for his Belgian teammate to get into goalscoring positions. Conte could explore the option of playing either Hazard or Pedro as a false number 9, but Chelsea have always played at their best when they’ve had a target man up front.
They sold Loic Remy, Bertrand Traore and Dominic Solanke in the summer, while loaning out Tammy Abraham to Swansea. Diego Costa too has left the club since the summer. Abraham only recently turned 20 years old, but has shown the maturity of a much more experienced striker. The lanky Englishman has scored 4 times for the Swans already, including a brace in the 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town yesterday. The Welsh club are going to be involved in a relegation scrap, and the bulk of the goalscoring responsibility is going to be on Abraham’s young shoulders, with the departure of Fernando Llorente to Spurs. Thus far, the signs are encouraging.
Should Chelsea look at the option of cutting short his loan deal and bringing him back to Stamford Bridge? He’s got the height and the physicality which Batshuayi hasn’t displayed at all so far, and will be a much-needed option for Conte. At the moment, it’s either Morata or Batshuayi. With one injured and the other clearly not good enough, they need to provision to avoid this from happening again in the future.
With the Blues also being active in the Champions League as well this year, they need as much bench strength as they can possibly get. Letting go off four strikers and bringing in just one was an incredibly stupid decision taken by the board, and Abraham must be brought in and given a chance to prove himself.