Antonio Conte has three players sidelined for the short trip to Vicarage Road as Chelsea get set to take on Watford on Monday.
Chelsea will be hoping to return to winning ways after midweek embarrassment when they travel to Vicarage Road to face Watford on Monday. But, there are a few problems that Antonio Conte must deal with heading into the London derby, with some key personnel on the treatment table.
Andreas Christensen’s recent injury predicament continued during Chelsea’s midweek loss to Bournemouth as he sustained a hamstring injury that has ruled him out of Monday’s tie. With David Luiz unavailable as well, Conte has just three senior centre-backs available.
As a result, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger look set to start in the back-three, with Thibaut Courtois guarding the Chelsea goal. Up ahead in midfield, Ross Barkley has picked up another hamstring injury, which has sidelined him for an indefinite period.
With Cesc Fabregas not in the best physical condition either, Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante look the likely midfield duo for Monday. Flanking the pair, should be Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, with January signing Emerson a possible option at left wing-back, who Conte spoke about in his pre-match press conference.
“With Emerson Palmieri we are talking about a young player, without a great international experience but a good young player. He only played last season with Roma but did very well before having a bad injury. Now he is with us and for sure he is an option for Marcos Alonso’s position. He is a good young player. For me, if a player deserves to play, then he will play.”
The real quandary for Conte lies in attack. With Alvaro Morata sidelined due to a back injury, Pedro and Eden Hazard seem to be the definite starters, with the latter being an option for the false nine role. The final position in the side looks to be a toss up between Willian and winter arrival Olivier Giroud.
The Brazilian winger has only recently recovered from a hamstring injury, and is doubtful to start. As far as Giroud is concerned, Conte was coy on the French striker being named in the starting lineup.
“Giroud we are starting to work with him but we have to check his physical condition, for sure it won’t be easy to see him play from the start on Monday. But remember we will maybe have Willian available and in this case the opportunity doesn’t change.”
Either way Giroud is expected to feature on Monday, be it from the bench or as a starter. But, it is likely that he will make his full debut for the Blues, with Hazard and Pedro in the wide areas.