BY PAUL LAGAN
It’s back to the trials and tribulations of the Premier League on Sunday and the question on every fans’ lips is ‘which Chelsea will turn up – the good, the bad or the very bad?’
The underfire boys from SW6 will still have that stinging 1-0 home defeat to Forest fresh in their minds.
The respite of international duty will not have dulled their senses, and a trip to Bournemouth won’t be something they will be relishing.
The Cherries will also be buoyed by their 2-2 draw at Brentford before the break, where they were seconds away from nabbing all three points.
Chelsea’s last away league game was the 3-1 loss to West Ham. The Champions League-chasing Blues are 12th with a single league win after four games – a comfortable 3-0 success against Luton Town.
Head coach Mauricio Pochettino has options in all positions except up front, which arguably is where the Blues have simply failed to fill the hole, despite almost £1billion spent on recruitment.
Pochettino will have to decide if the goalkeeping future lies with young Serbian Djordje Petrovic, 23, recently signed from MLS outfit New England Revolution, or stick with Robert Sanchez, who has kept just one clean sheet in five outings since his summer signing from Brighton.
The back four or five, depending on whether the Blues have the ball or not, looks the strongest area of the pitch. Levi Colwell will be hoping to retain his position alongside a backline of Ben Chilwell, Tiago Silva, Axei Disasi and Malo Gutso.
As that was the five who lost to Nottingham Forest, Pochettino will be hoping that lightning does not strike twice.
Assuming all the international players returned uninjured, it’s possible Pochettino will simply tell the same 11 players who lost to Forest, to go out and perform against Bournemouth.
One hopes that striker Nicolas Jackson does not get injured anytime soon.
With Christopher Nkunku not due back from injury in the foreseeable future, and Armando Broja close to getting back on the field – he will play in the development side in the next week – it’s up to Jackson to spearhead the goal threat.
Jackson could – if a rejuvenated Sterling gets his crosses in quickly and accurately – reap the benefits of his good, but not exceptional, start to his Chelsea career.
Conor Gallagher will be hoping to impress sufficiently to not have to ensure another transfer window like the last one. The club are quite happy to sell the midfielder, but he wants to stay.
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD
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