Mauricio Pochettino’s biggest Chelsea problem revealed as head coach plans ‘restructure’

Chelsea’s injury list is back to double digits. It didn’t take long, did it? And that has been the story of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino will be without Levi Colwill and Ben Chilwell for Monday evening’s Premier League clash between Chelsea and Newcastle United. Conor Gallagher, who has been absent from training all week because of a virus, will be assessed over the next couple of days before a decision is made over whether he is fit enough to take part.

Just when the likes of Marc Cucurella and Thiago Silva return to the squad and ease the injury situation a bit, another couple of victims fall. Both Colwill and Chilwell felt pain in the aftermath of the draw at Brentford at the weekend, with the latter’s sounding more serious than the former’s.

Chilwell, the Chelsea vice-captain, has hurt his knee, which is a rare injury for the left-back. In fact, it seems to be his first since tearing his cruciate ligament in November 2021. Meanwhile, Colwill has hurt his toes but while that does not sound too serious, the England international has been ruled out for the visit of Newcastle next week.

Chelsea have been without so many players this season. Wesley Fofana has not played a single minute after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the summer, while Romeo Lavia has made just one appearance since signing from Southampton.

Trevoh Chalobah, although fit now, was missing for the majority of the season. Reece James’ injury problems have continued, while Christopher Nkunku, Lesley Ugochukwu, Carney Chukwuemeka and Benoit Badiashile have all missed large chunks of the campaign because of their respective fitness problems.

It is not just Chelsea that have struggled with consistent injury problems this season. Monday’s opponents Newcastle have also been missing key players throughout the campaign and of course Liverpool’s situation has been highly documented in recent weeks.

“Sometimes, bad luck or good luck, I don’t like to talk in this way because it looks like if you work or don’t work well, you need to have good luck or bad luck,” Pochettino said on Thursday afternoon. “But I think it’s too many things that happen, you know?

“Why we have today the problems with the squad, it’s about more deep analysis. It’s not only bad luck, it’s good to clarify. Also, it’s something we need to think to improve or to restructure, to pay attention in all of the areas. It’s not to blame one area, it’s the responsibility of the whole club, of course.”

There has been some talk online that Pochettino’s approach to training sessions has been too physical, which is a major cause of muscular problems with footballers. However, as the Argentine was quick and keen to point out during his pre-match press conference at Cobham, this is not a new problem for the Blues. It’s one that he and his coaching staff inherited.

“Already when we arrived here at Chelsea, we analysed the situation, that was one of the weakest points in the last season,” Pochettino said. “Too many injuries, too much bad luck, you know?”

Whatever it is, Chelsea are not going to be able to solve it this season. We are too close to the end. But there needs to be some serious investigation going on behind the scenes, because as Pochettino said, this cannot all be put down to “bad luck”.

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