In the aftermath of their latest 4-1 defeat against Newcastle, Chelsea are once again at crossroads in their development under Mauricio Pochettino. A win at St James’ Park could’ve been the continuation of a positive run of form that saw the Blues beat Tottenham and draw against Manchester City before the international break. However, the West London outfit now go into their next league matchup against Brighton this Sunday with renewed uncertainty about whether the club is truly headed towards the right trajectory. Triumph at Stamford Bridge against the Seagulls will certainly help restore optimism in the Blues project. Following a match that was plagued by individual errors from on the blue side, Pochettino will have to carefully choose his men if he wants to steer CFC back on the right course on Sunday.
In Chelsea’s worst display of the season last Saturday, the Blues had at least one star that has been shining a lot as of late in Raheem Sterling. While every other CFC player looked like they were still on break, Sterling came ready to play, with constant attempts at trying to pierce the Magpies defense with his dribbling and his brilliant free-kick that leveled the game at halftime. With five goals in 13 league appearances this season, the former citizen is one goal away from tying his tally for the Blues in the league last season. Sterling’s resurgence proves that if the Blues want to get anywhere close to former glory, senior figures will still be needed to carry the load when youth inexperience inevitably bears inconsistency.
Chelsea’s most expensive signing Moises Caicedo was unable to start in the Blues’ loss against Newcastle. The Ecuadorian was the last to return from international break and despite featuring off the bench, the damage had already been done when he came on. Caicedo’s presence was definitely missed as CFC put on their worst defensive display this season, looking reckless out of position and lacking the midfield continuity that had begun to flourish before the international break. In his absence Lesley Ugochukwu certainly wasn’t terrible, however Caicedo not only brings defensive tenacity to the team, but also his passing ability, positioning and ability to balance the home midfield goes under the radar. Pochettino will need the return of his midfield enforcer in the starting XI and given it’s against his former team he should surely be up for the task.
With Reece James’ suspension and Malo Gusto’s injury, Pochettino is left with little options as to who to feature at right back against Brighton. The last time Chelsea was placed in a similar dilemma this season, Axel Disasi featured on the right side of the defense in a 2-0 loss against Brentford. It’s safe to say Disasi will likely feature again out of position to accommodate for absences. The Frenchman was dropped in the last match against Newcastle for fellow ex Monaco teammate Benoit Badiashile and the Blues conceded four goals. Hence the extra defensive resort will definitely be needed.
The only concern is that Disasi will be facing one of the most skillful wingers in the Premier league in Kaoru Mitoma and the defender’s lack of speed could be an issue in containing the Japanese winger. Either way, Pochettino is left with no option but to take his chances.