Chelsea’s next game is in the FA Cup, a third round (proper) match against Chesterfield FC, who are currently top of the table in the National League (née Conference), which is the highest division below the top four professional divisions in the English football pyramid. This will make them just the second non-league opposition we’ve faced in over 100 years, and the first at Stamford Bridge since before World War I.
That is to say that more so than most other early round FA Cup matches, this should be a great opportunity to not only rest and rotate, but perhaps hold another Academy Day, especially following on from the success of the three debutants against Brentford in the League Cup just a few weeks ago (Vale, Simons, Soonsup-Bell).
The only consideration that might prevent this from going full blown Academy is that a) we definitely don’t want to risk losing if we can help it and b) we have an EFL Trophy Round of 16 match against Arsenal U21 coming up on Tuesday as well (the last two academy sides left in that senior competition got drawn against each other).
That said, we reportedly had at least Lewis Baker, Charlier Webster, Harvey Vale, and Lewis Hall training with the first-team team yesterday.
As far as injuries and illnesses, we have Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kanté isolating, while Reece James and Ben Chilwell are out long-term. Trevoh Chalobah’s nursing a hamstring injury. Kai Havertz broke his finger in the last game, while César Azpilicueta was forced off late as well with a cramp. Andreas Christensen was reportedly back in training, and joins the likes of Timo Werner and Mateo Kovačić in working back towards full fitness. Édouard Mendy’s away at the Africa Cup of Nations, which could result in Marcus Bettinelli perhaps making his debut?