Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante were both booked against Crystal Palace, earning them a suspension for the Boxing Day fixture against Bournemouth.
The duo have been a huge part of Chelsea’s Premier League dominance this season, and they have played every single league game this season. For Kante, he has been involved in every minute of the games played this season, and his work in midfield has made it easy for Chelsea’s defence to keep clean sheets after clean sheets.
It would be a bit deceptive on our part to say that we wouldn’t miss Costa and Kante against Bournemouth. Costa has been banging in the goals for free, he has worked hard for the team, hassled opposition defenders and more importantly — he has scored crucial goals from scraps, when the team was down and needed something. Kante on the other hand is one in a million; he never gets tired, and he isn’t only a hard working player, but an intelligent one as well, and this shows in the way he covers up gaps in the midfield, thereby creating an impenetrable shield in front of the defence.
While it would be sad to miss the duo, it could also be a blessing in disguise. Injuries, bans and suspensions are part of the game, and if we must fight on till the end, we should be able to do without certain key players. A great team doesn’t just end at the starting 11, but also substitutes and fringe players that can come in and make a difference — this has been the testimony of every title-winning side. Already, we have a lot of cover and options that are quality players, that could make their absence hardly felt.
Also, with Costa and Kante out, there’s the possibility of Conte tweaking the squad, and possibly team tactics, in a way that could even provide a good backup plan to what we currently have. With teams being close to stopping our winning sequence in the last 3 games, this game could provide Conte that chance to try something new against teams that park the bus.
Finally, fringe players like Michy Batshuayi can have the chance to show what he’s got. In all fairness, the Batman hasn’t been given enough game time, and the few times he has been given time to showcase his qualities, he has delivered. This game could be a good time for the Batman to show that he can be an important player this season.
We’ve been dominant this season, and if we can continue our dominance with the absence of two key players, it only shows that this team can go all the way, no matter what, and that’s a blessing in disguise.