Chelsea will be in action this Saturday as the premier league returns after international breaks when they host Arsenal. The Blues are still in the bottom half of the table. Meanwhile, their London rivals are unbeaten and second in the table only based on goals scored.
The two teams have been in contrasting form in the past few months. While Arsenal won matches and had a run at the top of the table, Chelsea found it difficult to score even a goal. The week before the break was good for Mauricio Pochettino’s side as they won three games including a London derby.
Nevertheless, Arsenal will be a tough battle for the Blues. It is also the start of a tough run of fixtures for them. With that said, here are three things to look out for.
1. Chelsea wing selection
Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer were on the scoresheet last time Chelsea were in action. Sterling was the player of the match. Meanwhile, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke scored and starred for their teams during the international break. Even though Palmer missed England U21’s last game, he should be fit and available. It will be interesting to see which pair Pochettino would prefer to start the match.
2. Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo
Chelsea’s big-money midfielders starred for their respective nations in the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the World Cup. The matches took place in the late hours of Tuesday UK time. A lengthy journey is upon the pair to reach London from South America.
Fernandez and Caicedo will have less than 48 hours to prepare for the derby. Even if they start, the duo might not be fully fit to perform at their best. It will be interesting to see how Pochettino will tackle this particular issue.
3. Who starts at the top and the back?
Both Nicolas Jackson and Armando Broja withdrew from their national team camp. Jackson has undergone surgery on a hand injury that he picked up against Brighton & Hove Albion. Broja complained about discomfort. If Jackson is comfortable, he will be starting.
Reece James, expected to be fit for Arsenal, has suffered a new setback. He is in doubt now for the weekend. Axel Disasi was another Chelsea player who had withdrawn from the national team camp. It was after suffering a quadricep injury against Burnley.
Chelsea still has Levi Colwill available, and he could make his first premier league start for the Blues in a center-back role. It could see Marc Cucurella starting in his preferred left-back position with Malo Gusto at right-back.
There are a lot of headaches for Pochettino to deal with. Arsenal will be confident they can continue their unbeaten run in the league against a CFC side, whom they have had the upper hand in the recent past.