Graham Potter had some good news to deliver in today’s pre-match press conference, though perhaps not quite as good as some of us (like yours truly) might have been expecting.
You’re supposed to start with the bad news, but let’s start with the good news. Reece James and Kai Havertz are good to go, while N’Golo Kanté and Mason Mount are both in the squad if not quite match-fit enough to start.
“Mason has trained and is available, probably not from the start but in the squad. [Kai] had a fever but he’s recovered now and has trained the last couple of days. Reece as well, he’s had the last two training sessions with us so providing there’s no reaction, he should be available.
“[We] have to manage [Kanté] as the next stage for us because he’s been out for so long. The minutes and building those minutes in the Premier League. He’s been training well and he’s had some behind closed doors time and he’s available in the squad and I’m pretty sure he will be on the pitch at some point tomorrow.”
The bad news is that Wesley Fofana isn’t ready and neither is Raheem Sterling. Christian Pulisic’s now also battling an illness, while César Azpilicueta is still dealing with his concussion. Thiago Silva isn’t expected back for another couple weeks at the earliest, so he remains out as well.
“Thiago and Azpi are still away. Raheem is coming back. He will miss the game, think he’s got more chance for Tuesday. He was close. [...] Wesley is going to miss the game because his hamstring is still a little bit tight, there’s a chance for Tuesday with him. Christian Pulisic is the only one, he had a heavy cold returning from international duty so he’s one we’ve just got to check on.”
Thankfully the squad is massive, so finding fresh legs shouldn’t be a problem. Whether we can find (or create and maintain) rhythm is another question. It looked like we were onto something before the break, but internationals tend to disrupt and affect such things negatively, especially in the first game back. Thankfully it’s not a noon kick-off!
“I think we’ve made some steps and we need to carry on with that. Attack better, defend better, create more chances, concede less chances. Sounds simple but that’s what we need to.”
Is that all? Just attack better and defend better? Sounds quite the opposite of simple, Graham.
“There’s nice spirit in the team and a nice spirit in the group. We’re all looking forward to the weekend and what’s ahead. [...] We’re Chelsea and we want to win. Regardless of the league position in 11 games time we have to focus on the next game and try to win. We want to try and beat Aston Villa, then we play Liverpool, we try to win that then we play Wolves and try to win that and the consequences of that are what they are. We just need to play to win.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
April will be a busy, important, potentially exciting month. Let’s get to it.