Pochettino picks 3 Chelsea key stars he can’t drop against Man City, but faces Nkunku dilemma

Pochettino picks 3 Chelsea stars he can’t drop against Man City, but faces Nkunku dilemma

Monday evening saw one of the most bizarre but equally thrilling Premier League matches of the season thus far. Chelsea left Tottenham with all three points thanks to a resounding 4-1 victory in north London but that was only half of the story.

It is hard to imagine a world where some Chelsea supporters came out of the game, where they netted four away from home against their fierce rivals, rather disappointed. But that was the case.

Spurs went down to nine men early in the second half after Destiny Udogie was shown his second yellow card. Before half-time, Cristian Romero was given a straight red card after a nasty challenge on Enzo Fernandez that led to a Blues penalty.

It was 1-1 for a lengthy period of the game despite Tottenham playing a ludicrously high line considering the circumstances. It looked as if it was going to be ‘one of those nights’ for Chelsea but a late Nicolas Jackson hat-trick was eventually the difference.

“I think we deserved to win,” Mauricio Pochettino said after the game. “We forced them to make too many mistakes. I think Tottenham was better in the first 15 minutes and then I think we matched the game.

“I think our performance was good and we started to force [them] to make a mistake. I think everything that you can see within during the game I think was fair.”

Spurs’ offside trap was causing the visitors some issues at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and they had to rely on some of their big hitters to break the hosts down. The likes of Cole Palmer, Reece James and Conor Gallagher all played balls in and around the Tottenham defence to penetrate the opposition.

And that will come as no surprise given all three Chelsea players are in the top 20 when it comes to ‘big chances created’ in the Premier League this season. James is on the list with four to his name and that is despite the 23-year-old only playing four league matches this season – averaging a big chance created per 90 minutes.

Likewise, Gallagher, who has worn the armband plenty of times this season when James has been absent, has four big chances created as well. The England international is playing the best football of his Chelsea career to date and has arguably been the club’s most consistent performer this term.

Palmer is just above his two teammates with five to his name, alongside the likes of Pedro Neto, Anthony Gordon, Bernardo Silva and Heung-min Son. Palmer has been a revelation since making the deadline day move from Manchester City in the summer and is set to face his former club for the first time since leaving when they come to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.

The form of Palmer has made the absence of Christopher Nkunku that bit more bearable. Palmer’s role in the side has either been on the right wing or as a No.10, a position we saw Nkunku utilised in during pre-season, so it will be really interesting to see where Pochettino sees the Frenchman playing when he is back fit and available.

The likes of James, Gallagher and Palmer have all made themselves virtually undroppable to Pochettino at the minute – especially for a game with the significance of the Man City clash at the weekend. Chelsea have performed well in the games against the stronger sides in the Premier League so far this season and Sunday represents an opportunity to make a real statement against the reigning champions and current leaders.

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