Graham Potters’ start to life at Chelsea looked bright as the Blues went unbeaten in a run of eight games, winning six of them. The team was clicking and Chelsea for a brief period, looked extremely promising. However, Potter now currently has an injury list as long as his arm. In recent games, Chelsea have come away with a few unwanted results, and the Blues’ look troubled and disjointed. The international break couldn’t be coming at a better time for Potter and his men, as re-evaluation of the team is needed.
Chelsea have been hit with a massive wave of injuries over the last few games. Star player and stand-out performer Reece James sustained an injury to his knee in a Champions League game away against AC Milan.
The unfortunate timing means he has missed every game for Chelsea since and will not go to the World Cup with England as a result. Left-back Ben Chilwell has also been hit with the same fate. The Englishman is said to have torn his hamstring in Chelsea’s last European game against Dinamo Zagreb. The injury has left him on the side-lines, and he, like James, will not be on the plane to Qatar.
Chilwell’s recovery is expected to be a process that will go well into the new-year, meaning Chelsea will be without their dynamic full-back pairing for a long while, a story reminiscent of last season. Chelsea’s defensive woes continue with centre-back Wesley Fofana out injured, with his recovery taking far longer than expected. The Frenchman hasn’t played since the beginning of October, and his return date to the team is unknown.
The Blues are also without in-form goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has a foot injury. The Spaniard is in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup and will spend the rest of Chelsea’s games before the international as a spectator. Chelsea’s injury worries only continue as they move into midfield with Kante, Kovacic and Jorginho all having issues.
World Cup winner N’Golo Kante has become injury prone as he has started to reach the latter stages of his career. The midfielder sustained an injury to his hamstring in Chelsea’s first home game, a London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. The Frenchman, having only played 2 games, is set to be out until well into 2023. Chelsea’s depth in midfield has been weakened.
Not to mention Mateo Kovacic, who has been battling with multiple injuries since the start of the season. The Croatian is a key performer in Chelsea’s midfield, but his minutes are having to be carefully managed, to prevent any further injury, meaning that Chelsea are often having to play without him.
Jorginho is also now a doubt for the team. Suddenly, Potter’s options in midfield have begun to look very sparse. The Italian is battling a small foot injury, of which can be managed, but the player has missed games, as risking further injury is the last thing Chelsea need in their already troubled midfield. New signing Carney Chukwuemeka is now also injured, after making his Chelsea debut a few weeks ago. The 19-year-old looks full of promise but is not available for selection at this current time with damage to his foot. Potter’s options are limited, and Chelsea’s depth in some areas looks pretty bleak.
Struggles with XI and formation
It has been very clear for a long time now, both under Potter and Tuchel, that it is not known what Chelsea’s strongest starting team is. Potter has experimented with many different formations, both starting and in-game, but it is obvious that he isn’t quite sure yet on what the best tactics are for his team. Chelsea have been battling with the issue of not knowing what their best starting eleven is for a few seasons now, and it is something, that even under a new manager, that has not changed. Therefore, the team has been struggling to maintain any form of long-term consistency, as there is no set formation or starting eleven that the players can expect to see week in, week out. Given this, it is up to tactician Potter to evaluate what Chelsea’s strongest side is, and what formation is going to get the best out of the players.
Difficulty with Motivation
It has been said by former managers, both by Thomas Tuchel and Frank Lampard, that the current dressing room at Chelsea can be difficult to motivate. Tuchel expressed his desire for change in the team at Chelsea, and he also stated that the issue with their form often lied with some of the squad, something of which is still a problem.
The Chelsea players are struggling to maintain any decent runs of form, something that has been happening on and off for a couple of years. Even with the changes in management, the same troubles seem to come up time and time again. Therefore, this raises the question; what is lacking in the Chelsea dressing room? Whatever the issue is, it is something that needs addressing, because the team very clearly needs to improve to reach the levels expected of them.
It is obvious that there are many underlying problems at Chelsea that are contributing to their unpredictability this season. Their main complication is their long list of injured players. However, Potter and the team must do better in themselves in the next half of the season, if the Blues want to get anything out of this year’s campaign.