Three Chelsea players with a point to prove vs Blackburn ahead of Christopher Nkunku return


Just as things were starting to turn for Chelsea. The disappointment and pain of drawing with Arsenal from two goals up was eventually eased and numbed through the positive 75 minutes played before capitulation consistent with a new and young team growing together. It was much harder to find similar snippets of good from the defeat to Brentford.

Mauricio Pochettino and his men were four games unbeaten and slowly starting to get reward for the work that had been done beforehand but the manner of things on Saturday felt too eerily similar to the 12 months previous. There is a way to lose and struggling to get the ball into the box in a threatening way against a low block is not one of them.

It is a common theme already throughout this season that Pochettino has had to encounter with wayward finishing, lack of midfield threat and slow passing. However, with a set of games coming up that promises to takeaway the dominant but stale chance of possession, it could be a blessing in disguise.

It is understandably hard to coat things this way given two of the top three are on the cards inside the next month with Brighton, Newcastle and Manchester United all before December 10 as well. It is why this Brentford drop off feels so much more important as well.

Chelsea are showing all the signs of a young team going through growing pains but Pep Guardiola and Ange Postecoglou are not going to let that stop them in the coming weeks, a scary thought with the way both Tottenham and Manchester City are playing. It is with one eye on this run that the Blues welcome Blackburn to Stamford Bridge in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.

The game is a last chance to rebuild any of the confidence knocked back in defeat to the Bees and also for certain players to prove their worth. It was a damaging afternoon, for example, to Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Jackson and Axel Disasi whilst Noni Madueke didn't do himself many favours on a first start of the league season.

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It would be harsh to come down too strongly on Sterling, he did play a part in all four goals against Burnley two games ago as well as looking strong against Arsenal last week. Jackson is a bigger issue though with his form bringing just three goals in all competitions despite taking 24 shots.

The 22-year-old has not yet had the ready competition of Christopher Nkunku or Armando Broja on a consistent basis, something which could see his game elevate with more pressure and time. For now though there is little other option for Pochettino unless it is teenage prodigy Deivid Washington.

Jackson is likely to get the nod against Blackburn unless there is a miraculous recovery from Broja but there is now an expectation that he starts to deliver otherwise it could cost more than just individual results. When Nkunku comes back, something that Pochettino hinted could be after the next international break, there will be a true battle for places and a game like this is the perfect chance for Jackson to give himself a boost ahead of a run that won't be as forgiving.

Madueke, who was only really in the side due to injury for Mykhailo Mudryk, was unfortunate that his best moment wasn't to bring a goal but the way in which he drifted from the game shortly after hitting the bar is a major disappointment and might not see him get the opportunity in midweek to make a name for himself.

Reece James, on the other hand, will be looking to get some minutes under his belt before an extra day of rest and recovery ahead of travelling to Tottenham on Monday. If his workload can be increased at this time then it will be a huge boost and a test for Pochettino that gives him an extra thing to think about.

Finally, whoever plays at left-back will also be aiming to stake a claim for a starting spot at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Levi Colwill has played most games there but it was Marc Cucurella against Brentford, Burnley and Arsenal. The Spaniard looked fine but did miss two of the biggest chances of the game.

With Malo Gusto fighting for a return as well as James it could force Disasi inside or onto the bench, either way it leaves a spot at left-back for Colwill, Cucurella or Ian Maatsen to do their best to change the thinking before travelling to north London.

The ideal scenario here would involve less uncertainty, especially for a manager that has been so devout in not over-rotating, but defeat in the style that it came on Saturday can do funny things. There still isn't too much that needs changing, at least not with what is available, but the Blackburn clash is certainly the least high profile of an intense set of games for players to get into form.

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