Graham Potter forced into changes against Aston Villa amid Chelsea injury issues
Chelsea return to Premier League action against Aston Villa, with whom they are tied on points, as Graham Potter attempts to lead the Blues up the table.
The international break is nearly over, and preparations for the return of Premier League action have begun. Chelsea’s stars have already begun to return to Cobham after representing their national teams, as Graham Potter must now assess his players ahead of their match against Aston Villa.
Reece James and Kai Havertz both left international camps early to treat injuries, with the former leaving the Germany squad due to illness. They are two of a slew of players who the Blues will be hoping are fit enough to face Unai Emery’s side.
Cesar Azpilicueta, Mason Mount, and Wesley Fofana are all recovering from injuries, while Edouard Mendy, Raheem Sterling, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been spotted in training.
Potter may be forced to make changes, but after only drawing with Everton, the former Brighton manager may have some new ideas as well. Of course, with Liverpool on the horizon, some decisions may be made with that game in mind as well.
Spylax Media examines the changes Potter could make to prepare Chelsea for their return to Premier League action.
Mykhailo Mudryk in, Christian Pulisic out – Two of Chelsea’s front three remained consistent throughout March. The Blues will be hoping that Havertz will be able to play against Aston Villa in a reduced capacity, while Joao Felix has already returned to training after representing Portugal.
The third spot has been more fluid, with Sterling, Mudryk, and Pulisic all appearing throughout March to challenge the opposing backline and give Havertz and Felix more room. Pulisic, a USA international, played well against Grenada and El Salvador, but he traveled more than most of his teammates.
Sterling is recovering from an injury and may not be risked right away, while Mudryk played against England at Wembley on Sunday and was quickly back in Chelsea training. Although Noni Madueke’s form for England under-21s may be tempting, Mudryk has the advantage of more time under Potter.
Trevoh Chalobah starts – In the absence of Thiago Silva, the importance of Fofana in Chelsea’s backline was highlighted. However, his return from injury should be carefully managed, with the game against Liverpool possibly being a better target.
Potter still has Benoit Badiashile, Kalidou Koulibaly, Trevoh Chalobah, and even Marc Cucurella as options, with the latter two not having national team commitments, allowing them plenty of time to work at Cobham. To maintain consistency, the Blues manager may choose to use Koulibaly and Badiashile, with Chalobah slotting in on the right side of the back three to provide plenty of support to whoever lines up at wingback if James is unavailable.
Potter will be hoping that he can rely on James on the right flank, but his fitness will be a priority in order for him to play against Real Madrid later this month. If Azpilicueta has proven his fitness, he will be in contention to take the spot, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also a viable option who could add more versatility to Potter’s system.
On the other hand, even with Cucurella available for selection after his international exploits, it is difficult to ignore Ben Chilwell’s form.