Somewhere between playing terribly against Watford and serving his suspension against West Brom, Tiemoué Bakayoko picked up a mystery injury, which not only kept him out of Friday’s FA Cup match against Hull City but will also keep him sideline for Tuesday’s big game against Barcelona. Obvious stupid jokes aside, that no one’s saying what’s wrong with Bakayoko is mildly concerning — and if he is truly injured, that could go some ways towards explaining his poor form recently.
In fact, having started the season injured and never quite recovered from it, it could very well be the case that he’s been playing with some underlying ailment all this time. So, if we’re finally resting him properly to get him fully recovered and acclimated, then that’s fine. If it’s something more serious (like the Morata back injury, for example, which wasn’t revealed until at least a month had passed with it affecting his play), then we need to take care of it and possibly communicate better.
In any case, Bakayoko’s out for Barcelona, which does leave Conte with three able-bodied first-team midfielders, both of whom started on Friday (though Fàbregas was withdrawn with 30 minutes to go).
In better news, Marcos Alonso is expected back after missing an unheard of back-to-back-to-back games, first with a minor muscle pull, then with a twisted ankle. Alonso has been the picture of health and consistency in his time at Chelsea, so it’ll be nice to have that constant back even if Emerson did just fine for himself against Hull City.
Conte says Alonso will be fit to face Barcelona but Bakayoko is out #cfc— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) February 16, 2018
Meanwhile, both Olivier Giroud and Álvaro Morata seemed to come through unscathed against Hull, which does open up a couple possible options for attacking Barcelona, should we choose to do so.
While Conte wasn’t asked nor did he offer, presumably Ross Barkley and David Luiz will continue to be out as well with their respective injuries (hamstring and yet another unspecified knock after a series of injuries for much of the season — calf, knee, ankle, you name it — but especially since about November).