Mauricio Pochettino provided some early team news as he prepares his side to take on Brighton & Hove Albion, revealing whether Armando Broja and Ben Chilwell could return to the starting line-up for the Carabao Cup third-round tie, as well discussing the growing defensive relationship between Thiago Silva and Levi Colwill.
Chelsea host Brighton at Stamford Bridge tomorrow evening as we continue our Carabao Cup campaign, hoping to build momentum in the competition after defeating Wimbledon in the last round.
Ahead of the match, Mauricio Pochettino was asked whether Armando Broja could be in contention to play from the start, after coming off the bench against Aston Villa on Sunday to make his first appearance since November last year due to a serious injury.
‘He’s not ready to start,’ confirmed Pochettino. ‘He is helping the team and he is doing well, but he needs time to be fit again to be able to start a game. I think for 20 or 30 minutes he is able to help the team, but he’s still not ready to start.’
Our head coach also discussed the position of Ben Chilwell, who started all of our first four Premier League fixtures, before coming on as a substitute in the last two.
In his case, Pochettino explained Chilwell's absence from the starting XI has been down to the return from injury of some players, and the continued good form of others, particularly young defender Levi Colwill.
‘I am so happy with Levi in the way that he is playing and he has shown character and I think he provides the team with a very good balance,’ Pochettino continued. ‘I think Chilly is going to have the possibility to play, I think tomorrow he is going to play.
‘Always there is the expectation, of what we expect from the players. We were using Chilly maybe not in his best position, because he was a winger. That is why after we started to play with a winger, like Misha when he recovered or maybe Sterling, in that position, our thought was to keep Levi in the position because he is doing well.’
The combination between the youthful Colwill at left-back and the vastly experienced Thiago Silva on the left side of our centre-backs has also been a factor in Colwill getting the nod ahead of Chilwell in recent weeks, and Mauricio outlined how the pair help bring a good balance to his team.
‘Thiago is really doing well. The way that we want to play and the moment that we recover some offensive players like Mudryk, it helps that he’s very good building from the back. He’s strong and you need a strong defensive line. Looking at the data we have on defensive situations the team is one of the best in the league and that looks like we are doing well.
‘Then, when you have an offensive player in front sometimes you don’t need a full-back that can go on the attack. It’s all a question of balance and I’m happy with Levi because he provides very good things and at the moment, because always in football things can change, we are happy with him playing there.’
Looking at tomorrow’s game against Brighton more generally, our head coach feels the Carabao Cup gives the Blues a chance to make a fresh start and put Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League loss to Aston Villa behind us.
‘It’s one of our positives in this season, we need to think of this as an opportunity to win a trophy. Of course, after the defeat on Sunday, maybe the feelings are not the best, so I think it’s an opportunity to move on, to give the players confidence and trust.
‘It’s a different competition and we need to change our mood and everything. Yesterday and today we were talking a lot and we were trying to bring more confidence to the team, but we are going to be ready tomorrow.’