If you know how the odds work, you’ll know that Chelsea have a long way to go before they can claim to be viable title contenders in the Premier League this season. Despite sitting third on 25 points, the Blues are still nine points back of first place Manchester City, who have taken the league by storm.
While the defending Premier League champions got a much-needed laugher in a 4-0 victory over West Brom over the weekend, not all news coming out of Stamford Bridge is positive. Striker Michy Batshuayi, who missed the West Brom match, is set to sit out the next couple of weeks with an ankle injury.
The Belgian reportedly suffered the foot injury while on international duty, and he was unable to train with the Blues leading up to the West Brom tilt. The timing of the injury is rather unfortunate for Antonio Conte, as his side are set to play four matches over the next 11 days. Chelsea will resume its Champions League campaign against Qarabag on Wednesday.
While the Belgian had a bit of a rough go in his first season in England, he had found his rhythm in his second campaign prior to going down with this injury. Batshuayi has found the back of the net eight times in 17 appearances for club and country in 2017-18.
With Batshuayi unavailable, Conte is going to have to depend heavily upon Spanish striker Alvaro Morata. Morata is obviously Conte’s first choice anyway, but his workload is going to be a heavy one over the next couple of weeks. Morata himself is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, though he is expected to play against Qarabag.
Morata looked no worse for the wear against West Brom, as he bagged a goal and an assist and played the full 90 minutes.
While Morata and Batshuayi are the only traditional strikers in the side, Conte has gotten creative in the past. Both Eden Hazard and Willian have been deployed as central strikers at times in the past, and they may be thrust into such duty again over the course of Chelsea’s busy next couple of weeks.
In addition to the aforementioned match at Qarabag, Batshuayi will miss games against Liverpool (away), Swansea City (home) and Newcastle United (home). The two-week timeline puts Batshuayi on course to return to the pitch for the final Champions League group match at home against Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea’s future in the Champions League is rather uncertain at the moment. The Blues are currently sitting second in Group C on seven points. Roma is first with eight points, while Atletico Madrid are on Chelsea’s heels on three points. A win over Qarabag later this week will go a long way toward ensuring the side advances to the knockout stages.