Mauricio Pochettino given clear answer to key Chelsea issue ahead of decisive fixture pile-up
Mauricio Pochettino is faced with a serious selection dilemma for Chelsea’s trip to Burnley following Armando Broja’s performance away at Fulham on Monday evening.
If you would have asked a lot of Chelsea supporters before Monday night’s game with Fulham to pick two goal scorers, they may well have gone with Mykhailo Mudryk and Armando Broja. But honestly, considering the lack of goals this season, the majority of fans would not have cared less.
It was, though, Mudryk and Broja who scored Chelsea’s two goals at Craven Cottage – within 82 seconds of each other actually. Every Chelsea fans is rooting for Mudryk with the Ukrainian facing so much criticism since he made the big-money move to Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window.
So to see him score his first competitive goal for the club was a big sigh of relief for everyone involved. But to see Broja score was a different – and equally satisfying – feeling amongst Blues supporters.
The 22-year-old striker was making his first start for Chelsea in almost a year after recently returning from a horrendous injury. Broja suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a mid-season friendly against Aston Villa back in December while out in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s amazing,” Broja said to Sky Sports when asked how it felt to score his first goal since 2022. “As a striker you always want to score on the big stage in the big moments.
“I have dreamed about scoring since I was a little kid. It’s amazing really and it’s an unbelievable thing to score in a derby, but it’s amazing to get the three points for the team and to try and score if I can
Anyone in football that has been through such suffering and torment because of a horrific injury like Broja’s has to work so hard to get back to their best. And while the Albanian is nowhere near full fitness just yet – emphasised by the fact he could only manage just over an hour at Craven Cottage – it is so encouraging to see him back out there and among the goals once again.
Broja’s performance at Fulham was so impressive, in fact, that it has left Mauricio Pochettino with a serious dilemma for Saturday afternoon when his Chelsea side make the trip to Lancashire to play Burnley. Does he stick with Broja, who was a constant nuisance to the Fulham back-line during his 66-minute stint? Or does he opt with the returning Nicolas Jackson?
has to be Broja. He could not realistically have done anything more to put himself in contention at Turf Moor. And when compared to Jackson’s display in the Blues’ last away outing at Bournemouth, Broja’s numbers are considerably better, especially when he played just 66 minutes compared to his teammate’s 99.
Both had one shot on target, with Broja having one fewer attempt, but recording a higher xG (0.6 compared to Jackson’s 0.32). Broja also recorded more successful dribbles (two compared to one), with three attacking duels won in comparison to two and the Albanian striker had one more touch in the penalty area.
Chelsea looked a more confident side in every aspect against Fulham than they did versus Bournemouth – so that of course plays into Broja’s favour, but part of the reason that was the case is because of how the striker fared on his first start since his serious injury.
It was a seriously strong centre-forward display from Broja and considering all of the circumstances and context around the appearance, it becomes more impressive. He certainly deserves to keep his place as Chelsea look to continue building momentum at Burnley.