‘I have secret weapon to unleash that day, even their Captain Ødegaard can’t penetrate my defense line,mark my words’: Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino reveals His secret plan to stop Ødegaard ahead of their clash against Arsenal
Mauricio Pochettino could welcome back at least three Chelsea stars into his matchday squad for the visit of Arsenal on Saturday, October 21. The Blues headed into the latest international break following three consecutive wins in all competitions with two key senior stars returning that could be joined by an influential trio later this month.
Injuries have once again plagued Chelsea this season with Wesley Fofana and Christopher Nkunku, who recently posted a positive injury update, as the main long-term absentees. Muscular issues have prevented Benoit Badiashile and Romeo Lavia from playing this season while Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Moises Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk have all missed parts of the season through injury.
Although it may feel like the injuries are mounting, Carney Chukwuemeka and Armando Broja have both returned from their respective knee problems in recent weeks. Chukwuemeka was an unused substitute against Burnley, making his first matchday squad six weeks, while Broja scored in his Premier League comeback against Fulham after a 10-month lay-off.
However, the 22-year-old has since returned to Cobham from international duty after just two training sessions with Albania suggesting he may have suffered an injury setback. While injuries in certain areas of the pitch mean the starting XI to face Arsenal will likely pick itself, Pochettino could have a triple dilemma at right-back.
Reece James kicked off the season in the position after being named club captain but an injury saw him replaced by Malo Gusto. The France international was then shown a red card against Aston Villa which meant he would miss Premier League matches against Fulham and Burnley along with the Carabao Cup clash against Brighton.
As a result Marc Cucurella was deployed in the role and with Chelsea winning all three games and conceding just once, he has done nothing wrong to lose his place, however the changing availability of Gusto and James may force Pochettino’s hand.
Gusto’s suspension is up in time for the Arsenal clash while James was spotted back in full training ahead of the Burnley game with the international break potentially giving him enough time to get up to speed and start against the Gunners, however that may not be the case.
Sources have disclosed to football.london, it is ‘too early’ to determine whether James will be fit enough to take any part against Arsenal in Chelsea’s first game after the international break. Nonetheless, James likely be pushing for some involvement and with a start perhaps not looking too likely, it could be the final chance for either Cucurella or Gusto to prove to Pochettino they should be in the team ahead of James even when he is back at full match sharpness.