Half of Chelsea’s squad have departed to join up with their international teams but hard work is still taking place at Cobham. Mauricio Pochettino is looking forward to more of his players recovering in the two weeks between Premier League matches and improving his top of his agenda.
“To improve players, try to recover players from injury in two weeks, we’re going to spend working in the training ground,” said the 51-year-old following Chelsea’s win over Burnley.
“Of course different mood from the last time, last month. With a victory, it is much better. I think pushing, keep pushing and working hard to try and be better.”
Within this, there will be time for reflection to. With that said, football.london takes a look at what we’ve learned about Chelsea across the first two months of the season.
Axel Disasi was a necessary signing
When the Frenchman arrived at Stamford Bridge, at the close of Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the United States and with little time before the start of the Premier League, there were some questions about where it was the right signing at the right time. It was not so much to do with Disasi’s quality, as much as looking at Chelsea’s stock of central defenders in the shape of Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah, Levi Colwill, Benoit Badiashile and Wesley Fofana, with Bashir Humphreys having also impressed while in the USA.
Granted, Disasi’s countrymen were both out injured at this stage but it felt like another problem could arrive when Badiashile made his return. However, he has only just returned to partial training following a setback, Chalobah has yet to feature due to injury and Colwill has more predominantly been used as a left-back.
Disasi has played every minute of Chelsea’s season so far and that is telling in itself. The 25-year-old is an experienced head compared to the vast majority of the Blues’ signings and he has grown into the season to make his presence felt.
While his performances have become more secure, what is more noticeable is his involvment in every celebration and the enthusiasm with which he tries to hype up his teammates in their success. There’s an element of Antonio Rudiger.
Whether he’s staring intently at a teammate or energetically amping up the crowd, Disasi is proving a key component to Pochettino’s team.
Conor Gallagher has proved his value
The midfielder was widely expected to leave Stamford Bridge over the summer, but even though Chelsea rejected a £40million bid from West Ham in July, there was a chance of a departure come transfer deadline day. However, like Disasi, while the west London side have often struggled, Gallagher has been a standardbearer for the team.
While players settle at the club and Pochettino has searched for his best starting XI amid an injury crisis, Gallagher has taken on the responsibility in the centre of the pitch and worn the captain’s armband more often that either Ben Chilwell or Reece James. Only Disasi, Robert Sanchez and Levi Colwill have played more minutes.
It may have been a surprise to see Gallagher take on a deeper role for much of the season, but Chelsea’s most recent two Premier League wins have shown him in his element as the most advanced member of a midfield three. His combination with Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo looks formidable, and against the Clarets the Cobham product showed his ability to hunt the ball down, move intelligently with Cole Palmer and to produce a pivotal pass in assisting Raheem Sterling.
Tough decisions will await with the return of players such as Carney Chukwuemeka and Christopher Nkunku, with the Blues’ shape having adjusted slightly from a having a clearn No.10. Gallagher has done pretty much everything possible to earn his place.
Malo Gusto can provide competition
Having been named captain of the club and producing a promising combination alongside Sterling against Liverpool on the opening day of the season, Reece James would have been expecting big things this season. The England international was stopped in his tracks due to a injury he is only just returning from, however.
In has stepped 20-year-old Malo Gusto, and Marc Cucurella when he has been suspended, to provide a consistent replacement. The French youngster was considered a good option to ensure that James was not overplayed but for the most part in his outings so far looks intent on providing true competition.
The real test comes next
It’s difficult to suggest that Chelsea did not have a kind start to the season. There are of course no easy games in the Premier League but the Blues would have hoped to provide themselves with a cushion giving their run to start 2023/24 even with the adaptation they were still requiring to undergo.
This next period was always going to be testing with Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City, Newcastle, Brighton and Manchester United coming as six of Chelsea’s next seven matches. However, it will be a true litmus test for how far along Pochettino’s side are with a number of summer signings having settled and injured aces beginning to return.
Outside of scoring goals, Chelsea’s performances have generally impressed Pochettino and they have so far earned the greated expected goals figure in each of the games. With the Blues still 11th at the moment, even with Chelsea provided the benefit of the doubt, the pressure could be on after this stretch.
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