Chelsea have started their debut Premier League campaign under Mauricio Pochettino in rather poor overall form. After 11 games played, they were already three points behind the European positions and nine points behind the top four places.
From what the team has shown so far, they may appear as big underdogs to qualify for continental football for the 2024/25 season.
The new signings are yet to make their mark and Pochettino is still crafting his preferred starting XI. Based on Chelsea’s time under Todd Boehly thus far, there could also be a new influx of new additions to the squad in January.
Christopher Nkunku’s return awaits
Of all Chelsea’s arrivals over the summer, the signing of Christopher Nkunku was undoubtedly the most significant. However, an instant impact at his new club was prevented by injuries.
– Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 14, 2023
The team struggled in the Frenchman’s absence as they lacked a natural creative option. In football betting, they are now 5/1 outsiders to finish in the top four positions. However, today’s top football predictions suggest that players are in contention for a place in the UEFA Europa League or Conference League.
UEFA Champions League football may be a tough task, but Nkunku’s return from injury could help Chelsea work towards a form of European qualification.
During his final years at RB Leipzig, he was one of the most in-form players in Europe, with 58 goals and 21 assists since the start of the 2021/22 season. A fully fit Nkunku is one of the world’s leading players and should be able to almost single-handedly transform Chelsea’s fortunes once he puts his injury worries behind him.
Pochettino could soon deploy a sedentary team
One of Pochettino’s biggest challenges at Chelsea was managing such a large squad – he had to chop and change to test the perfect formula for his starting XI. This meant the squad was changed week after week and relationships on the pitch were constantly broken down.
But we are now months into the season and the Argentine coach is starting to show signs of becoming more consistent in his team selection.
Robert Sanchez, Thiago Silva and Axel Disasi form a regular trio in defense and the return of Nkunku should make it possible to change the defensive midfield pivot less often. The Frenchman’s absence means the deeper midfielders have had to fill the number ten role.
Chelsea’s wide areas are always subject to changes in personnel shape as there are many attacking options. Yet, in defence, you simply cannot rely on the fitness of Ben Chilwell.
A team with similar profiles and players regularly taking the field together should only get stronger over time. The feeling of familiarity that is gradually building within the matchday squad should greatly benefit the team throughout the season.
January signings could help Chelsea ambitions
Chelsea are often associated with a large number of notable players across Europe due to their immense spending power.
A new number nine could be on the agenda and that of Inter Milan World Cup winner Lautaro Martinez is one of the profiles that could do the trick: he is a real complete attacker who simply guarantees goals.
Lautaro Martínez leaves with the Capocannoniere prize. pic.twitter.com/zdQ5yduife
-Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) November 10, 2023
There are certainly plenty of changes that could have a positive impact on Chelsea over the coming months. Nkunku will surely become the team’s star player if he stays fit, and January could provide Pochettino with the elite number nine his team craves.
Chelsea may have declined to mid-table throughout the season so far, but a European finish is still within reach given the extra quality that could be injected into the squad.