James return, new Nkunku partnership – How Chelsea could line up after the international break

By Staff

The international break has come at a good time for Chelsea with several players on the road to recovery and having reached Wembley for the second time the mood is up. Mauricio Pochettino will enjoy the break knowing that there remain just over ten games to rescue their league position with a semi-final to look forward to without pressure considering they have been drawn against favourites Manchester City.

With the break, there is scope for some players to return to the fold for the Blues and therefore make the team after its conclusion. However, it may still take some time after the clash with Burnley for a few to fully recover whilst the likes of Wesley Fofana expect to be out perhaps for the rest of the season.

With that in mind, football.london takes a look at what a post-international break team could look like. Bearing in mind this might not be for as early as Burnley but certainly scope to see in April.

Robert Sanchez looked questionable in goal for Chelsea when Leicester came to test them. His distribution in particular was nervy and Djordje Petrovic deserves his starting spot, but a summer signing certainly looks on the cards.

Reece James has a hopeful return timeline of April and if they can indeed get the England international into the side it could be a transformational difference to the back line. Having such a threat down the right will only help the undroppable Cole Palmer who also features on the right side.

Into the back line and the return of Benoit Badiashile to full fitness is certainly a boost to the team and if Pochettino can discover the Frenchman’s form from his early stints in a Blue shirt then the renewed partnership with Axel Disasi might indeed be the way forward. Chelsea fans will of course long for Fofana’s recovery but again it just seems too far away.

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Ben Chilwell also recovered to come on against his former club last weekend. Marc Cucurella has shown promise but Chilwell certainly brings more balance, especially if James was to return on the right-hand side.

Into midfield and it remains the most consistent part of the team for now. Despite all of the changes, tweaks and switches to the line-up, the trio of Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez and Conor Gallagher remains steadfast.

Rightfully so too, it is certainly the strongest partnership and until Chelsea can find a more creative and traditional solution to their No.10 role, allowing these three to play and gel is key. That said, there is scope for Carney Chukwuemeka to make a play for a potential future position if his form following his recovery continues to impress.

The hope is that Christopher Nkunku will finally be able to not only play but sustain a position and find some form which earned him his switch to west London from RB Leipzig. The Frenchman can operate in several positions and despite most seeing a centre-forward role as his best, playing off of the chaotic Nicolas Jackson and taking up a slot from Mykhailo Mudryk and Raheem Sterling might be preferred.

Noni Madueke was the alternative pick with Sterling’s form so poor and Mudryk’s role is best as an impact substitute for now at least. However, with Palmer on the right, Nkunku on the left and Jackson through the middle there are goals to be got.

Dream XI: Petrovic; James, Disasi, Badiashile, Chilwell; Caicedo, Fernandez, Gallagher; Palmer, Nkunku, Jackson.

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