The one surprise is Chelsea’s starting lineup against Watford on Monday Night was the absence of Marcos Alonso, who had started every single Premier League match up to that point this season and has been a virtual ironman since taking over at left wing-back 18 months ago. His durability has actually been one of his best qualities since joining, and that’s in addition to all the goals he provides from that flank.
Alas, now he’s become the latest muscle injury victim at Chelsea this season, and while it may not be another hamstring as eight others had already suffered, muscle injuries of most kind tend to be a result of fatigue.
Alonso misses out due to a minor muscle injury [via Chelsea TV] courtesy of @CarefreeYouth— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) February 5, 2018
Alonso had been one of the few players in the squad to avoid injury of any sort this season — Azpilicueta and Rudiger now the only two regulars — and that record has been under scrutiny of late, even if not all of it may be in Conte’s control. The Chelsea head coach, who had reduced his training workload from last season already, recently defended the club’s injury record.
“If you compare to the other clubs you can see we have less injuries. The only problem this season is that we are playing a lot and our squad wasn’t big enough to give the right rest. I think we are working less than last season.”
“For sure you have to change your plan, your work, when you play every three days – it’s impossible to give intensity in these two days between one game and another. Sometimes, when I had the possibility, I tried to give a window of little work for the players that I decided to rest.”
“But in this country, with four competitions and the great intensity of every game, you have to face a season with a big squad. I think it’s very important to understand and find the best solution for the future.”
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
In fairness, Chelsea are certainly not at the top of the injury list in terms of numbers, though when compared with last season’s incredible health record, it certainly seems worse. Perhaps it’s just a regression to the average, or perhaps it has something to do with Conte’s methods, or, as this is most likely, it simply has to do with the overall workload on the squad. Injuries are part of the game and is one of the reasons teams need big squads.
Davide Zappacosta, who’s also not missed any time due to injury since arriving but has also been utilized a fair bit less than most replaced Alonso in Monday’s lineup, with new arrival Emerson not quite ready to start yet.