Champions Chelsea’s season got off to the worst possible start on Saturday as the Premier League champions were reduced to nine men and defeated 3-2 by relegation candidates Burnley.
Those two red cards – to Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas – and subsequent suspensions mean Antonio Conte ’s already injury-ravaged squad is looking remarkably thin ahead of a crucial clash against Tottenham Hotspur next weekend.
The Italian has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with Chelsea’s dealings in the summer transfer window and appears desperate to add depth before deadline day later this month.
The Blues have brought in some players – Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger – but for each of those they have sold or loaned out two or three more.
And while most of the exits were fringe players, the likes of Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Kurt Zouma all played elsewhere in the Premier League this weekend and would surely take at least a place on the bench – if not in the first-team – against Spurs if Conte had them at his disposal.
The Diego Costa situation is partly Conte’s own doing, having told the player by text message that he was surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.
But it is not in the forward department that Conte will have a selection headache over ahead of Sunday’s match at Wembley – but rather his midfield and defence.
As well as Cahill and Fabregas being suspended, Chelsea will be without Bakayoko and the creative brilliance of Eden Hazard, while Pedro is still a doubt with an ankle injury.
That lack of cover means David Luiz may have to step into midfield, with an extra defender coming off the bench.
Victor Moses is expected to return to the starting line-up after missing the Burnley game through suspension while Conte may also look to start with Morata following his impressive display from the bench.
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