As we all know, Ashley Cole's late red card against Swansea City means that Chelsea will be without the England left back for the key home game against Manchester United on Sunday. We've already lost one match to the defending Champions this season, and I can't imagine we'd like to do so again, so having a reasonably stout defence would probably be a good idea.
So, who's going to start at left back? Andre Villas-Boas has a few options available to him. Jose Bosingwa played there against Bayer Leverkusen when Cole was unavailable, and put in a decent enough shift before the defensive meltdown right at the very end. Ryan Bertrand is nominally Cole's backup, although we've seen him barely at all this year. Paulo Ferreira is theoretically an option if you wanted to see an old man's knees get snapped in half while trying to mark Antonio Valencia, and David Luiz is talked about at fullback every week or so.
According to the manager, he's down to two options:
There's a difficult decision to be made tomorrow when we practice strategically for the game. We have full trust in Ryan's abilities. It's a game of massive importance. It will for sure be between Jose and Ryan. We have important players out, but we have a very big squad which enables us to approach the game in a positive way.
-Andre Villas-Boas. Source: Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle.
I'm inclined to say it doesn't really matter, because Bosingwa and Bertrand are both liable to get spanked by Valencia anyway. I can see why you wouldn't want to hand Bertrand his first Premier League start in such a stressful game, and I can see why you wouldn't want to field Bosingwa, who isn't the best defender in the world anyway* out of position on the left.
I've seen some claims that Bosingwa will be the man because that's who played against Leverkusen. This seems a little bit silly to me because Bertrand wasn't available for that competition (neither he nor Romelu Lukaku were on the Champions League group stages squad). I believe the manager when he says that he hasn't decided yet, and presumably that choice will be made after Saturday's training sessions. That doesn't stop me having a preference, however - I think I'd go with Bertrand.
I'm not sure there'll be much difference between the two on the pitch, but starting a young player who's been desperately starved for time so far this year will send a message to the rest of the reservists and the youth teamers. That's an important thing for Chelsea to do: We don't want them to give up on the chance of getting time here without going on loan. We're not talking about resting an elite player to give youth a chance right now, and a mediocre right back should not prevent Bertrand from seeing the pitch, no matter how high-profile the match.
What think y'all?