Mudryk start, Fofana issue – Graham Potter forced into Chelsea changes vs Aston Villa
The international break is all but over and preparations for the return of Premier League action are well underway. Already Chelsea’s stars have started to return to Cobham after representing their national teams as Graham Potter now must assess his players ahead of facing Aston Villa.
Reece James and Kai Havertz both left international camps early as the former looked to manage an injury and the latter left the Germany squad due to illness. They are two of a whole host of players the Blues will be hoping are fit enough to feature against Unai Emery’s side.
Cesar Azpilicueta Mason Mount, and Wesley Fofana are all working their way back from injury while Edouard Mendy, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been pictured in training.
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Potter may be forced into some changes but after only managing a draw against Everton, the former Brighton coach may have some new ideas in mind too. Of course, with Liverpool to quickly follow, some decisions may be made with that game in mind too.
football.london takes a look at the changes Potter could make for Chelsea’s return to Premier League action.
Mykhailo Mudryk in, Christian Pulisic out – Throughout March, two of Chelsea’s front three remained consistent. The Blues will be hopeful that Havertz is recovered in time to start against Aston Villa even in a reduced capacity, while Joao Felix has already been back in training having represented Portugal.
The third spot has been more changeable with Sterling, Mudryk and Pulisic all having featured throughout March to challenge the opposition backline and to afford Havertz and Felix more space. USA international Pulisic enjoyed good form against Grenada and El Salvador but had a great deal more travelling than most of his teammates.
Sterling is returning from injury so may not be risked from the off, while Mudryk last played against England at Wembley on Sunday and was quickly back into Chelsea training. There may be a temptation to utilise Noni Madueke after his form for England under-21s, but Mudryk has the benefit of greater time under Potter.
Trevoh Chalobah starts – In the absence of Thiago Silva, the importance of Fofana was made clear in Chelsea’s backline. However, that also means his return from injury should be carefully managed with the game against Liverpool perhaps a better target.
Potter still has a number of options in Benoit Badiashile, Kalidou Koulibaly, Trevoh Chalobah and even Marc Cucurella, with the latter two players not having national team commitments ensuring they had plenty of time to work at Cobham. To maintain some consistency the Blues boss may opt to utilise Koulibaly and Badiashile with Chalobah slotting in on the right of the back three to provide plenty of support to whoever lines up at wingback if James is absent.
Wingback decision – Potter will be hoping that he can rely upon James on the right flank but targeting his fitness towards being available to play against Real Madrid later in the month will be a priority. Should Azpilicueta have been able to prove his fitness he will be in contention to take the spot, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also a worthy option that might lend more versatility to Potter’s system.
On the opposite side, it is too hard to ignore Ben Chilwell’s form even with Cucurella being available for selection after the former Leicester ace’s international exploits.
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