There’s good news and bad news for Chelsea ahead of their game against West Ham on Saturday – and it’s not even that Roberto will probably be in goal for the Hammers.
Let’s start with the bad news: Tammy Abraham could be absent after injuring his hip against Valencia, meaning that either Olivier Giroud or Michy Batshuayi will have to deputise.
“If I was a Chelsea fan, I would be very concerned about Abraham’s injury,” said Natalie Gedra on this week’s Totally Football Show. “There’s a huge gap between him and him and the other options for centre-forward. I think the way Abraham reads the match is completely different from Giroud and Batshauyi.
“Batshuayi scores goals eventually but misses a lot of chances. Abraham is more intelligent in his movement, which you can’t see in Batshuayi.”
Still, every cloud and all that: as Lynsey Hooper said, this could give some of their other attacking players a chance.
“The beauty of this Chelsea side is the options Lampard now has. If you’ve got a target man like Giroud or Batshuayi who can hold up the ball, this is an opportunity for someone like Mason Mount to come in and for the goals to come from that phase back in play.”
And furthermore, Pat Nevin isn’t concerned at all about Abraham being absent – or at least not nearly as worried as he would be if another man was missing.
“Tammy’s done brilliantly and he’s going to be a phenomenal player, but I don’t think he’ll be even slightly missed, which I know sounds a bit harsh. There’s only one player I would be concerned about at Chelsea – Jorginho by a million miles.
“As soon as he goes off the pitch, like he did against Valencia, Chelsea just could not get on the ball. When he’s on the pitch, Chelsea control the game.”
But never mind the attack or midfield – and here’s the good news – where it’s really at in this Chelsea team is in defence.
“If you’ve not watched Chelsea recently, get out there and watch the right-back, Reece James,” said Pat. “He is one of the best crossers of the ball in English football, beyond even – you could make the argument – Trent Alexander-Arnold. He’s astonishing.
“There was a moment in the game, when he’d already put in eight or nine brilliant crosses between the defence and the goalkeeper, when he was in his own half, there’s two players closing him down, he didn’t panic and shoved them both off the ball as if to say ‘How dare you try to get the ball off me?’
“He’s a kid, and he’s so confident, so strong, he’s such a good player – he’s going to be an international full-back keeper for a decade. He’s brilliant.”
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