Chelsea injury blow could hand Newcastle and Man United Europe advantage

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino -Credit:Getty Images

Chelsea have been rocked by two new injury blows ahead of their Premier League clash with Tottenham tonight, with manager Mauricio Pochettino at a loss to explain the club's issues.

The Blues are looking to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Manchester United in race for sixth place when they play their game in hand this evening against fifth-placed Spurs at Stamford Bridge, A win for Chelsea could move them to within just two points of Eddie Howe's Magpies, although a Spurs victory would mean they only need three more points to ensure Newcastle cannot catch them in fifth.

Like Newcastle, Chelsea have been hit by a crippling injury list this season, with 14 players likely to be missing tonight. Defenders Thiago Silva and Axel Disasi are the latest additions to the list since 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday, in which Pochettino was forced to name five academy graduates aged 20 and under on the bench.

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Howe has been forced into a similar situation at Newcastle, with the likes of Ben Parkinson, Alex Murphy, Joe White and Amadou Diallo featuring on the bench. Lewis Miley, of course, stepped into the first-team picture at the start of the season and impressed at the top level before a back injury ended his campaign early.

Pochettino insists Chelsea's medical and coaching staff are working to try and understand why the club have suffered so many injuries. Absentees have included £70m defender Wesley Fofana, who has not played all season after surgery on an ACL injury, and forward Christopher Nkunku, a £52m signing who has been limited to seven Premier League appearances and who, despite returning to full training, will not be fit to face Spurs.

Romeo Lavia, bought for £58m from Southampton, has played only once for the club while Reece James and Ben Chilwell have also had lengthy spells out of the side. Last week it was confirmed that Enzo Fernandez, signed for a then-British record £105m in January 2023, will not play again this season following a hernia operation.

"I need to be honest," said Pochettino. "What I can say is that always in a new process and new structure, (there are) things we can do better, of course. We all feel the responsibility. We can do better.

"Too many circumstances have happened. It's difficult to explain with one word or in one sentence. Of course we are working on trying to improve. We have an amazing staff - medical staff, coaching staff. They have experience in managing clubs and being in this business.

"When some circumstances arrive, sometimes it can happen. We need to now, until the end of the season, put all the information on the table and try to be better next season.

"We need to improve in communication, dynamics, strategy. Everything to do with our knowledge to improve and co-ordinate better. The quality is here. It happens sometimes with a team. Why do they not perform? We are assessing why. It's too many things that are all together today. That's why we're suffering so many injuries."

After facing Spurs tonight, Chelsea host West Ham on Sunday before away games at Nottingham Forest and Brighton and a final-day clash with AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge.