One potential drawback of using first-team starters in situations where perhaps the backups, fringe players, and youth might do, too, is that said first-team starters might pick up extra bruises, knocks, injuries. Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly the case after Sunday's 2-0 win over League One side Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup third round.
In his extended post-match interview, manager Guus Hiddink confirmed that Diego Costa picked up a "contusion" — it's unclear whether that was the cause of Costa's limp that was obvious towards the end of the first half as well as when he made his way off the pitch to be replaced by Bertrand Traoré. With Radamel Falcao out until the end of the month, Eden Hazard out until at least the weekend if not longer (we want to be careful), and Loïc Rémy's continued absence of undefined expected length, Hiddink might have to get creative. Or, give Traoré, who had no problems leading the line for Vitesse last season, a chance from the very start.
Meanwhile, Oscar has apparently picked up a "very painful" toe injury (inflammation?), which was the primary catalyst behind his half-time substitution. While the move paid off and Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored the all-important second goal, the teenager isn't really a good solution at the no.10 position. But with Hazard also out, we could see another teenager, Kenedy, get a few extra minutes in this instance (with Willian the most natural Oscar-proxy in the center).
The new injury issues do not end there, though this one had nothing to do with the match itself. Midfielder Nemanja Matić was a surprise absentee from the match-day squad; he was apparently knocked out by a thrown ball in training the day prior and was having dizzy spells even on Sunday morning.
"We had the last training session and there was one goalie who ... from 5-7 yards, threw the ball into the back of [Matic's] head. Yesterday, he was a little bit dizzy, and this morning was still a little bit dizzy."
How bizarre ... even for this bizarre season.