James recovery, Badiashile return – Pochettino's Chelsea to-do list after Arsenal draw


Mauricio Pochettino was a man of mixed emotions after Chelsea were pegged back from two goals up to draw with Arsenal on Saturday. The Blues were cruising at 2-0 thanks to Cole Palmer and Mykhailo Mudryk's goals but a late fightback from the Gunners meant the points were shared at Stamford Bridge.

"Yes [it feels like two points dropped] because I feel until 77 minutes when we conceded the first goal, I think we were in control and didn't concede many chances," Pochettino said to reporters. "I think Arsenal are an amazing team, they were fighting last season for the trophy and I think this season improved with some players also. Yes, disappointed because we dropped two points."

But overall Pochettino was more than satisfied with how his team played on the evening. Chelsea were largely dominant for 70-or-so minutes and restricted Arsenal to very little in terms of opportunities but a lapse of concentration from Robert Sanchez allowed Declan Rice to score from distance and get his side back into the match.

Leandro Trossard then levelled the match in the final 10 minutes to ensure both sides would take a point from the all-London derby. Chelsea, though, made a bit of a statement with their performance against one of the best teams in the Premier League in the Gunners.

Next up for the Blues is another home clash against Brentford next Saturday. There is a lot for Pochettino to work on before that comes around and football.london takes a look at what is on the Argentine's to-do list this week.

Badiashile return

Benoit Badiashile was on the Chelsea bench for the first time since the end of last season on Saturday night but was an unused substitute against Arsenal. The French defender, who was super impressive for the Blues in the second half of the 2022/23 campaign, is now close to returning to full fitness after what has been a frustrating injury rehab programme.

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By the time the next match against Brentford comes around, Badiashile is set to have trained a few days and get even closer to full fitness – giving him an opportunity of starting against the Bees. The fitness of Axel Disasi is uncertain, too, with the former AS Monaco centre-back being left out of the squad on Saturday.

James recovery continues

Brentford may see captain Reece James start for only the second time this season. James had been sidelined since the first game of the season against Liverpool, but the right-back made his long-awaited return against Arsenal as a second-half substitute.

Malo Gusto did not have his best game against the Gunners either, so there could be real scope for Pochettino to bring James back in the side. However, the Argentine will be looking to manage the England international's minutes because of his track record with injuries in recent seasons.

Striker conundrum

It was perhaps a bit of a surprise for Chelsea supporters to see Nicolas Jackson named on the bench against Arsenal. The 22-year-old was the only recognised striker available for Pochettino given the injury to Armando Broja, but the head coach went with Palmer as a sort of false nine instead.

And it did indeed work. It took Arsenal by surprise, it seems, and the Gunners could not get to grips with how the 21-year-old was floating around in offensive areas, leaving space elsewhere for his teammates to exploit.

We're not sure, however, if this is a long-term plan to use Palmer in this position. So it's up to Pochettino and his staff to decide this week whether Jackson comes back into the attack or if he continues to persist with Palmer.

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