With N’Golo Kante being the only recognised midfielder available to Antonio Conte for Chelsea’s visit to Tottenham on Sunday, the Blues coach is facing a selection crisis ahead of the club’s first derby of the season.
Before the match against Burnley, it had been expected that Antonio Conte would rely on the tried and tested midfield partnership of N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas to play the first few fixtures of the new Premier League season. However, after the Spaniard was sent off last Saturday, the Chelsea manager has some thinking to do ahead of the match at Wembley. But what options does the Italian have in his mission to fill the central midfield void?
Call in the kids
Although Antonio Conte only has one experienced Premier League midfielder in his squad for Chelsea’s match against Tottenham, the Italian manager does have another central midfielder in his squad.
Kyle Scott, 19, is Chelsea’s only other central midfielder and was on the bench for Chelsea in their 3-2 loss to Burnley at the weekend. The midfielder is yet to make his first team debut, but has played a number of times for the club’s development squad. As a result, Conte could be tempted to hand Scott his first Premier League start given that he is the only natural central midfielder in the squad.
Yet, the Italian may question whether a local derby against Tottenham is the best fixture to bed in a young player? Surely it would be better to field an experienced player out of position rather than throw a youth player in at the deep-end?
If Antonio Conte deems Kyle Scott too inexperienced to start against Spurs on Sunday, the Chelsea manager does have a couple of players he can rely on to fill the midfield void left by Cesc Fabregas.
David Luiz is a credible option to play in the heart of midfield against Spurs on Sunday. Despite enjoying one of his best seasons playing at centre-back as part of a three-man defense, the Brazilian has been deployed in midfielder before, most noticeably by Rafa Benitez during Chelsea’s Europa League campaign. A natural leader and good with his feet, Luiz would be able to play in midfield against Spurs without looking out of place. However, does the Brazilian have enough discipline to play in midfield against a top Premier League side?
Another player who could easily switch central defence for midfield is Cesar Azpilicueta. The 27-year-old is incredibly smart and has already proved that he can play out of position after making the switch from left-back to centre-back last season. A much calmer head than Luiz, Azpilicueta may get the nod ahead of his defensive colleague for the vacant midfield position on Sunday as Chelsea look to grab their first three points of the season.