The International break is over and the dust raised over World Cup qualification has finally settled. Players can now at least have their heads fully focused on club football knowing very well that their performances for their respective clubs will likely decide if they are to make the trip to Russia. More satisfying enough for Chelsea and Conte is that there are no major injury worries aside the knocks to Bakayoko, who has resumed training already and Victor Moses, who is recovering from his hamstring injury. But in the big picture, there are behind-the-scene boggling issues that need to be addressed as we make the trip to the Hawthorns to play against Tony Pulis’ WestBromwich Albion.
Here are the 3 boggling issues to address:
WILL CONTE RETURN DAVID LUIZ TO THE STARTING LINEUP?
How many times have we seen the effects of player power at Chelsea? Severally. The recent report of a bust up between Conte and Luiz saw the defender axed from the matchday squad that faced Manchester United before the International break. Chelsea won and Conte was vindicated and right in his selection of Christensen over Luiz.
When asked directly if they had fallen out, Conte said: “No, no. Tactical decision.There is [Andreas] Christensen in really good form and also we have [Ethan] Ampadu who is a good young player. The club like to play with the young players.”
When also asked by a television reporter if Luiz – who had reacted angrily after being substituted three weeks ago – had a future at the club, Conte said: “I don’t know. He has to work really hard – otherwise they are on the bench or in the stand.”
Conte explained further: “It’s very simple. The coach has to make the best decision for the team. Last night the best decision was to go with Andreas Christensen. I make the best decision for the club – not for a single player.”
Rightly said, but the real extent of their bust up will lie in Conte’s decision as to who starts against West Brom – Christensen or Luiz?
CAN CHELSEA CONTINUE TO EXORCISE THEIR DEMONS AT THE HAWTHORNS?
Chelsea’s record against the Baggies have been pretty ugly until the last two seasons. Just two scrappy wins in our last five visits there and it’s sure gonna be dicey with pragmatist, Tony Pulis in charge. But with West Brom flattering to deceive with poor form, can Chelsea capitalise as we seek momentum in our title defence?
WHO WINS THE GAME OF TACTICAL ABILITY?
Both managers, Tony Pulis and Antonio Conte are keen on defensive solidity, midfield control and hitting the sucker punch to kill off games. Whoever gets his selection and tactics right surely might gain all three points.
Let’s watch and find out. Cheers!