This coming week is the first without two matches for Chelsea since the start of October and there are five weeks without a competitive game to follow. Graham Potter says it is a period that must be approached as a positive.
For a start it gives time for the long injury list to be reduced, a roll call of names that was increased further at the weekend when Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Cesar Azpilicueta were forced off early in the defeat at Newcastle. Our head coach has reiterated that our captain, due to be World Cup-bounded with Spain, is hopefully not suffering from anything too serious, but he has also spoken about Loftus-Cheek who, like Azpilicueta, appeared to be hit with a calf problem during the game.
‘Azpi doesn’t seem so bad, he felt it was getting worse so hopefully it was more precautionary,’ Potter said of the need to substitute the defender. ‘Ruben we are a little bit more concerned with but it is too early to say. We have to assess over 24 to 48 hours before we know for sure.
‘It doesn’t make it easier,’ he said about losing two more players during a game.
‘We had Thiago to come in and that helped us but Azpi went down as well so we had to change at half-time.
‘Newcastle started the second half better than us and pushed us back so we had to alter again [the formation changed from 3-4-2-1 to 4-3-3], but that is just where we are at. We are scrambling at the moment in terms of trying to find a way in the game because when you lose a couple of players within the starting 11, it does not make it easier.’
Looking ahead however, as well as the chance for injury recoveries, the World Cup break gives some space to take stock and to work on the training pitch.
‘I think it will be beneficial,’ said Potter. ‘We will have a lot of players away so we have not got too many to work with but at the same time, we all need a change in environment and that will be helpful.
‘We have to use it as that. We have to think about it as a positive in that regard. There are a lot of games to go, there is a lot of football to be played, we need to reset, regroup, re-energise and start again.’