In the broadcast portion of Antonio Conte’s pre-match press conference, the Chelsea head coach hinted at a “couple” concerning situations regarding the squad’s fitness in addition to the hamstring injuries that have already ruled out Gary Cahill and Cesc Fàbregas. He would not name names while the cameras were on, but once they were turned off, he either did specify whose fitness he was worried about or the journalists present were able to read between the lines and figure it out.
Either way, as per Matt Law of the Telegraph, these two players are Thibaut Courtois and Danny Drinkwater, at least one of whom was certainly set to start. Courtois has started every single Premier League and Champions League match so far this season, but he is now “expected” to be ruled out of Saturday’s game due to an ankle injury. It’s not clear how or when he picked up this injury — presumably it wasn’t while playing basketball again...
Drinkwater meanwhile sounds less concerning but possibly still serious enough to keep him out. Tenacious Double D may not be a fixture in the first-team, but he provides much-needed depth and quality rotation options. He did play most of the game on Wednesday, so he probably wouldn’t have started, but if he is ruled out, Chelsea will be without six (6!) senior players, including the aforementioned injured quartet as well as the suspended Pedro and Alvaro Morata.
We will get Ross Barkley back, but not yet in a starting capacity as he’s expected to only be on the bench. This doesn’t leave too many able bodies, especially with the usual fixture congestion of the mid-season and the big League Cup semifinal second leg against Arsenal coming up on Wednesday.