Chelsea made some much-needed adjustments to the first-team squad this January, bringing in three new established players in midfielder Ross Barkley, left back Emerson and striker Olivier Giroud, replacing youngsters Charly Musonda Jr, Kenedy, and (not so young but not so trusted) Michy Batshuayi.
True to form however, Conte will not be rushing them into action. Barkley, who signed at the beginning of the month has started just once despite the busy schedule. Now, with Emerson (ACL) and Giroud (hamstring) both coming off of injuries as well — it’s a bit of a theme, unfortunately — the same pattern should be expected, despite injuries to other key players, too.
Conte on debuts for new signings: "We have to wait. Especially for Palmieri. We are talking about a player coming from a bad injury. He has played in only one game in the cup against Torino" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) February 2, 2018
Conte says Giroud is also joining Chelsea after injury and wants to be patient to give him a start as he's mostly played from the bench at Arsenal #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) February 2, 2018
Given that Morata is still out of contention due to his back injury, Eden Hazard will probably be called once again to start a game as a centre-forward/false-nine in Monday’s game against Watford.
Conte on Morata injury: "Alvaro is still out. I hope to be able to solve his situation, for a problem in his back, he is missing a lot of games. It is not a good situation for me or for the team. I hope in the future the medical department can solve this situation." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) February 2, 2018
Another injury concern is Andreas Christensen, who became the seventh hamstring injury-victim of Chelsea’s season in Wednesday’s loss. According to Conte, the injury is not major, but Christensen is certainly unavailable for Monday. Even minor hamstring injuries can take a couple weeks to clear up, so this is unsurprising.
Conte on Christensen: "The first medical exam was positive but we have to wait. For sure he is out against Watford" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) February 2, 2018
In better news, both Willian and David Luiz are getting close to returning from their respective injuries, with the former gravely missed against Bournemouth and the latter having not started a Premier League match in over three months. If David Luiz can’t go, Conte will be facing some tough and sub-optimal decisions for the starting lineup in defense.
Conte on team selection for Watford: "Willian maybe will be able." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) February 2, 2018
David Luiz was back in full training today, could return for Watford. #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) February 2, 2018
Injuries or no injuries, Chelsea need to get back on the winning track on Monday against Watford after Wednesday’s humiliation by AFC Bournemouth at the Bridge.