Chelsea were already down one starting full back for Monday’s game against West Ham, with Reece James aggravating a knee issue into a full-blown injury over the course of the past week, and now we’re facing the prospect of having to navigate the festive schedule without the other starting full back as well.
Less than 10 minutes into the game last night, Ben Chilwell twisted his right ankle rather badly — one of those extremely annoying injuries that result from just a random mis-step. Chilwell, who was celebrating his 24th birthday as well, tried to gamely carry on after liberal application of the magic spray by the medical team, but it became apparent quite quickly that his day was not going to last much longer.
He was replaced by Emerson Palmieri, which meant that Chelsea had to make do with just backups at two of the most important positions on the pitch for the rest of the game. César Azpilicueta and Emerson Palmieri may have the edge in experience over the thus injured young duo, but Azpi’s not quite the player he once was (especially as a right back), and Emerson has never been the player he was once supposed to be.
And it sounds like we’ll have to make do with those two for the foreseeable future. James’ knee scan came back negative, but Chelsea are understandably being cautious with him after he experienced some discomfort in training. Meanwhile, we now await the results of Chilwell’s scan, which we can only hope comes back without any major damage. Even so, twisted ankles can take a few weeks to heal up and head coach Frank Lampard isn’t expecting a miracle either, despite his eternal injury-optimism.
“I expect he’ll be doubtful for Arsenal. He turned his ankle and tried to carry on but it was too painful. We’ll have a scan tomorrow to try and see how bad the injury is. We’ll update after.”
So yeah, not good. James and Chilwell have each started 11 of our 14 Premier League games so far this season. Emerson has yet to start a league game in fact, with Marcos Alonso preferred ahead of him earlier this season.
Lampard doesn’t think this will be a huge problem, but he’s probably just rejecting reality and substituting his own like all good man-managers do. It’s not a lie if you believe it!
“A slight difference in attributes can change things to a degree but I don’t expect too much because they are accomplished players.
“The captain of the club, Azpi, did brilliantly today in all senses of his game, particularly the defensive side which was so important in the way they play. Emer did well as well. When we train we work inclusively as a whole squad and know the movements we want to make. We’ll prepare for Arsenal and onwards with our attacking plan.
“We want to attack with our full backs. They know that. Reece and Chilly have been doing really well, we hope their injuries are not that bad and will be in and around the games over Christmas. So we’ll see. But I was pleased with the two lads today. They were comfortable.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Well, I’m certainly not comfortable.