Chelsea have four games left before the World Cup. The first of those is on Wednesday, at home against Dinamo Zagreb. It’s a game that actually means nothing, except for what meaning we might assign to it beyond the result itself.
The three that will follow after, Arsenal at home, Manchester City away in the League Cup, and Newcastle United away — they mean everything. Two matches with direct top-four implications, and the first match in the competition that provides perhaps the best chance for a trophy this season.
If it were acceptable, in either a sporting or non-sporting aspect, I’d just as soon trot out the U19s on Wednesday (they have nothing on the line either, already confirmed dead last in our UEFA Youth League group anyway). But that’s probably not likely to happen.
Still, it would be nice to see some youngsters, such as Lewis Hall or Charlie Webster or Dion Rankine or Ben Elliott or Silko Thomas or Alfie Gilchrist or Bashir Humphreys or Josh Brooking, and so on. Unfortunately neither Omari Hutchinson nor Cesare Casadei nor Mason Burstow nor Zak Sturge nor Dylan Williams can play as they are not eligible for the B List (have not been here for 2+ years yet) and were not registered as part of the first-team at the start of the campaign.
From the first-team, Reece James, N’Golo Kanté, and Wesley Fofana remain out, while Kepa Arrizabalaga came off at half-time on Saturday with a foot injury of unknown severity. The likes of Thiago Silva, Mateo Kovačić, and probably many others have been dealing with various knocks and concerns, while Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher are in yellow card jeopardy, and would be suspended for the first leg of the Round of 16 if they picked one up in this game.
In better news, Kalidou Koulibaly was spotted taking part in Monday’s training, so his knee might be doing better now.