Chelsea given perfect boosts as squad truth clear after latest double injury blow   13/02/2024 15:00

As Chelsea posted late on X on Monday night, "Stoppage-time winners. There's nothing quite like them".

And how right are they? A comfortable 2-0 win? Nah. Give me a late victory with two stoppage-time goals any day of the week.

That is exactly what happened with the Blues on Monday evening. Conor Gallagher scored on 91 minutes to put the visitors ahead for the first time in the game. Enzo Fernandez then scored three minutes later to empty the majority of Selhurst Park.

Chelsea have now won back-to-back victories in the past week with Mauricio Pochettino still on the elusive hunt for consistency with this young squad. With that being said, Bobby Vincent takes you through the latest talking points regarding the Blues.

Double injury blow

All eyes were firmly on Thiago Silva when the starting lineups were announced an hour prior to kick-off. Jamie Carragher, in the Sky Sports Monday Night Football studio, said the 39-year-old would have some "pressure" on him as he came back into a side that were excellent at Aston Villa last week.

READ MORE: Jackson moment after Chelsea goal leaves Carragher stunned and why Pochettino was left confused

READ MORE: Chelsea player ratings vs Crystal Palace: Gallagher great, Palmer and Enzo shine

Carragher was right. And when Chelsea were not doing so well, for the entirety of the first-half, a lot of fingers were therefore pointed at Silva, which was very harsh. Whether or not you believe he is the problem, he was not the only issue in that torrid first period for the Blues.

Silva was then taken off on the hour-mark after the Brazilian, who has played over 2,700 minutes in all competitions under Pochettino this term, tweaked his groin. He slid in to block Jean-Philippe Mateta's low shot and while it was a really good block – and typical of him – he ended up hurting himself.

Pochettino confirmed Silva would be assessed today (Tuesday) to see the extent of the problem, but they certainly will not want to rush the Brazilian back. With the Carabao Cup final on the horizon, it is a concern for Chelsea, no question about it.

One man who is definitely out of the final against Liverpool is Benoit Badiashile. The 22-year-old also hurt his groin, as he came off late in the win against Aston Villa last week.

Badiashile, understands, is expected to be sidelined for around a month with his latest setback, meaning he will miss key games against Manchester City and Liverpool in the next 12 days. While Chelsea have lost two centre-backs due to injury; as fate would have it, there are a couple who also play in that position returning to action.

Levi Colwill came on for Silva in the dramatic win in south London on Monday night with the England international returning from his knee injury. Pochettino was also boosted by Trevoh Chalobah's presence in the squad for the first time this season, with the 24-year-old once again available for selection after months on the sidelines.

Malo Gusto was taken off late in the game with the Frenchman signalling that he wanted to leave the pitch. Fortunately, Pochettino confirmed after the game that it was more to do with fatigue than anything else, with the right-back putting in another excellent performance for the Blues.

Chelsea boosted by Gallagher resurgence

Gallagher's resurgence could not have come at a better time for him or Chelsea. With loads of questions over his future over the January transfer window, it felt like the 24-year-old had somewhat of a point to prove to Blues supporters.

He started the season excellently but slowly tailed off as the campaign progressed. His role in the team was under scrutiny, with a lot of supporters thinking the England international did not offer enough in attacking situations, despite playing as a No.10 for a lot of the time.

In the last two matches, though, Gallagher has proved his doubters wrong. The Cobham graduate has now scored three goals in his last two games. After netting for the first time this season at Aston Villa less than a week ago, Gallagher smashed two significant goals in against Crystal Palace, the club he spent the 2021/22 season on loan with, to further prove his worth to Chelsea.

There were some members within the Chelsea hierarchy that were open to selling Gallagher in the January transfer window, understands, but the player was keen to stay at Stamford Bridge and Pochettino, too, wanted him to remain with the club. His contract is due to expire in less than a year-and-a-half, with his future in serious doubt unless the club and him can strike an agreement on an extension to his deal.

"What he told me was to stay at Chelsea," Pochettino said on Monday night. "But then it's about him and the club. But I'm not suffering with this type of thing; he still has one year more on his contract. But I think that is a matter for him and the club."

For Chelsea, his dramatic improvement has come at exactly the right time. He contributed massively to help the Blues progress into the FA Cup fifth round last week and his match-winning performance against Crystal Palace eased the pressure even more on under-fire head coach Pochettino.

With an away trip to Manchester City on Saturday evening, which is essentially a free-hit for Chelsea because of the gulf in quality between the two sides at the moment, Gallagher will need to put in a similar level of performance at the Etihad Stadium. And, more importantly, Gallagher will need to replicate this kind of form at Wembley towards the end of the month when Chelsea take on Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.

In the space of five days, Gallagher has established himself as one of the first names on Pochettino's team sheet. He is one of those players that will inevitably always have question marks looming over him – I'm not sure why – but all he can do is what he has done in the last two matches, where he has been the difference for Chelsea in a couple of crucial games.

Goal machine Enzo

After what we witnessed from Enzo in the second half of last season, following his £106million move from Benfica in January, we never would have expected this. Enzo now has seven goals in all competitions for the Blues, with the 23-year-old adding his third in the Premier League in south London.

It was clear to see that Enzo had world-class quality following his at-the-time record-breaking transfer, but it did not look like he would be the type of player to score goals on a regular basis. This season, though, his role has slightly changed.

While still being allowed to dictate the game from deep, having Moises Caicedo alongside him, or behind him to be more precise, has been super beneficial to Enzo. It has given him the licence to roam into more offensive areas on the pitch.

Some of those seven goals have been really tidy finishes, too, with the one at Crystal Palace certainly falling into that category. While his one at Aston Villa was a screamer of a free-kick, he showed his calmness and composure in the box at Selhurst Park, waiting for the precisely the right time to let fly and beat Dean Henderson in the Eagles' goal.

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