This article forms part of our Potential Consequences feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look at a recent report and suggest what the implications could be.
Chelsea have been dealt positive and negative news on the injury front ahead of their Premier League encounter with Brighton & Hove Albion, as Frank Lampard can expect Andreas Christensen back in his line-up at the weekend, according to Goal.
Christensen had left Lampard facing a defensive crisis after suffering a knee injury in a freak collision with teammate Fikayo Tomori against Liverpool, while Antonio Rudiger is still on the sidelines with a groin problem.
Lampard’s concerns have been eased somewhat with Christensen expected to be fit should the 23-year-old sit out Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup clash with Grimsby Town, meaning he can join Kurt Zouma and Tomori in preparing for their next league game.
But while Lampard can expect Christensen back to face the Seagulls after being given the all-clear by the Blues’ medical staff, Emerson Palmieri will not be returning to the fold until at least mid-October.
The Italian full-back suffered a recurrence of the thigh problem which meant he missed his side’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the feeling is that he returned too early to face Liverpool, resulting in his substation after 15 minutes.
Should the Santos, Brazil-born defender sit out the Blues’ upcoming schedule preceding the October international break, there will be a few potential consequences that the West London outfit will need to consider…
Marcos Alonso retains the reins
Despite struggling against Liverpool, and being awarded a five out of ten for his efforts by the Express as he was badly beaten in the air for Roberto Firmino’s goal, Lampard will have no choice but to allow Marcos Alonso to retain the reins at left-back against Brighton if Emerson is not fit.
Alonso was Maurizio Sarri’s first-choice last season, but the Madrid-born full-back has only started Chelsea’s trip to Wolves this term, and failed to leave the bench against either of Manchester United, Leicester City or Sheffield United (TransferMarkt).
A return to the level of form which saw him cement his importance to Sarri could provide Lampard with food for thought once Emerson is fit again, as the Italian may find he has to fight to regain his spot in the starting line-up.
Ian Maatsen promoted to the senior fold
Ian Maatsen joined Chelsea’s academy in 2018 from PSV Eindhoven after three years in the Eredivisie side’s youth set-up, and may now be in line for a promotion to the Blues’ senior fold as Lampard looks to add depth beyond Alonso.
The Netherlands U17 international is yet to make his competitive Chelsea first-team debut (TransferMarkt), but has 12 outings with their U23s to his name, along with 11 for their U18s and ten in the UEFA Youth League with the Blues’ U19s.
A first senior start may even come in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup clash with Grimsby Town, should Lampard look to rest Alonso ahead of their league visit of Brighton to Stamford Bridge before Chelsea jet off to France to face LOSC Lille in the Champions League on October 2.
Return to three at the back
Lampard’s main decision with the absence of Emerson will be if he has enough defensive and offensive support in starting Alonso, and could favour a return to the three at the back formation used against Wolves and Valencia (TransferMarkt) if he feels the Spaniard would not offer the defensive cover needed.
What may count against its return, though is that the Blues boss only has three senior centre-backs on offer to face Brighton in Christensen, Zouma and Tomori, so may be hesitant to start them all in case one picks up a knock.
Zouma has not been the best defensively this season, either, with the Frenchman only averaging 0.5 successful tackles per ninety minutes from his 360 minutes of Premier Leauge action, per WhoScored, which is a quarter of that recorded by Christensen and Rudiger and 3.2 less than Tomori.
Chelsea fans, what shape would you like Lampard to favour against Brighton? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Chelsea notifications!