Mauricio Pochettino may be about to trust £20m Chelsea star vs Arsenal amid huge injury worry


Considering Chelsea's form going into the international break, head coach Mauricio Pochettino may be reluctant to make too many changes when Arsenal come to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Blues won their last three matches in all competitions before the majority of their squad jetted off to represent their countries.

Three consecutive victories against Brighton, Fulham and Burnley mean the feel-good factor, that was evident throughout the pre-season tour of the United States, has returned to the club. So Pochettino may not want to change the personnel in the side too much from the XI that beat Burnley but there could be some forced alterations to be made.

Cole Palmer picked up a minor knock to his hamstring while on international duty with England Under-21s and was sent back to Cobham early by manager Lee Carsley. "I think Cole would be fine, but we don't take any chances with any of the players," Carsley said.

"If there is a slight doubt that they're going to miss a game at the weekend, we get them back to the clubs as quickly as we can. We could've kept Cole here another day and see how it was, but we didn't think it was right."

Palmer has hit the ground running since making the transfer deadline day move from Manchester City to Chelsea in the summer. Last time out away at Burnley, the 21-year-old netted his first goal for the club, converting a penalty after Raheem Sterling was fouled inside the box at Turf Moor.

If Palmer was fully fit for the trip of Arsenal at the weekend, then Pochettino would undoubtedly choose the in-form attacker. Chelsea, however, may be cautious with Palmer as they do not want to aggravate a hamstring injury that, at the moment, seems to be a minor problem.

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That means there could be scope for Carney Chukwuemeka to return to the starting lineup for the first time since August. After impressing against Liverpool, the 19-year-old was once again selected for the trip to West Ham United on matchday two of the Premier League season.

After the Hammers went ahead early on in the game, the Blues then relied on Chukwuemeka to equalise on 28 minutes with a fine finish – in what was his first, and to date, only goal for the club since signing from Aston Villa in the summer of 2022. Moments later, though, Chukwuemeka was forced off the pitch at the London Stadium with a knee injury, which proceeded to keep him on the sidelines for way over a month.

Chukwuemeka did, though, return to the Chelsea squad last time out away at Burnley, although the midfielder did not come on the pitch in what turned out to be a comfortable win for the visitors. With Palmer potentially missing, however, there could be a chance for Chukwuemeka to get some minutes against Arsenal.

Palmer has operated both on the right wing and more centrally as a No.10 since moving to Chelsea; two positions Chukwuemeka can also play in, particularly the latter. He can also slot into the midfield three and play in one of the advanced roles either side of the holding player in the centre. Though it seems unlikely that Pochettino would change from Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo and Conor Gallagher after recent performances.

Chelsea supporters are desperate to see Chukwuemeka back on the pitch after such a promising start to the season. The teenage sensation has huge potential but is yet to properly grasp that since joining the club. If he does get a chance against Arsenal, then there are not too many bigger stages to showcase your skillset on.

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