The October international break is over, and Chelsea return to action on Saturday when they host Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will be hoping to pick up where they left off in the Premier League but face some challenges after having a number of players feature for their country over the break.
One of the biggest concerns is the fitness of N’Golo Kante. Because of small injuries here and there, Kante’s been in and out of the team. On Saturday, he will be out again after picking up a groin injury while with France.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was not particularly pleased that Kante remained with the French national team for their second match after having pulled out of the first match due to injury.
Joining Kante on the sidelines will be Andreas Christensen who also picked up a groin injury, but there is good news. Antonio Rudiger has resumed training after his latest injury, though he may not be ready to start Saturday’s match against Newcastle. Mateo Kovacic has also recovered from a slight injury and will be available.
Injuries aside, Chelsea will be feeling confident against a Newcastle team that has struggled mightily this season and are hovering just one point above the bottom three spot.
But Newcastle had a much better showing in their last match before the international break against Manchester United. Newcastle showed a lot of determination and a bit of quality to earn a 1-0 win at St. James Park.
Chelsea should be a different proposition. Where Manchester United have found it hard to score goals or create chances, Chelsea have been the exact opposite. Both Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have produced goals for Chelsea, with Abraham tied with Sergio Aguero at the top of the scoring charts.
But one area of concern is Chelsea’s defence, and given the energy and quality that Sean and Matty Longstaff showed against Manchester United, Chelsea’s midfield and defence may need to be on their toes, particularly with the likes of Miguel Almiron’s creativity and trickiness in the final third and Joelinton’s physical presence on the pitch given Newcastle a bit of guile and steel.
Provided Chelsea return from the break with their focus intact, Saturday should be a victory for Chelsea and a good prelude to the return of the Champions League in midweek.