What position would you play CHO in for the upcoming game against Burnley, considering his performance in the FA Cup?
Sam: Personally following his performance in the Cup at right-wing Lampard should give him another shot on the right (especially if Reece James is playing.) The pair of them terrorized Forests right back all game long and Callum ended up with a goal and an assist. I know since his purple patch Hudson-Odoi has been underwhelming but his performance in the FA Cup should give him the confidence boost he needs to get back on track.
With Christensen in your plans going forward is there any other CB you’d get rid of?
Sam: With the news of Guehi departing on loan to Swansea, we can’t afford to offload a CB without bringing someone else in. Four CB’s is the absolute minimum for a team like us competing in multiple competitions. If we were to bring in a centre back this window, I’m not sure who I would consider getting rid of. Zouma has come into his own this season and has become a real presence at the back. Tomori has been impressive considering his age and has shown flashes of brilliance however his inexperience does shine through at times. And Rudiger is still returning from a significant injury. From the games he has played though, he looks much like he did last year; an excellent defender that has the occasionally clumsy mistake in him.
Who would you say you’re fearful of a particular player in the Burnley team that could pose problems?
Sam: Burnley are a team that plays one style of football and they stick to it. They have very physical forwards in Wood and Barnes who have 14 league goals between them this campaign. The pair of them will look to bully defenders into errors and make chances from set-pieces because Burnley don’t create many chances from open play. In fact, they have the joint lowest shots on target per game of all the teams in the league. The player creating most of those chances is Ashley Westwood who has racked up 5 assists this term. McNeil also poses a threat from the wing.
With Willian’s contract expiring would you offer him a new deal?
Sam: Personally, I would give the Brazilian another year. I hesitate to call him a club legend but he has to be doing something right to have racked up 300 games for the blues. Yes, his outcome has been tailing off recently but he has had a good league campaign. People may not want to admit it but statistically, he’s been one of our best players so far. And if he has still got the odd masterclass such as Tottenham in him, we would be foolish not to keep him around.
How would you go about defending set-pieces against such a physical side in Burnley?
Sam: You can’t coach physicality but you can coach defensive shape. We just need to be better at picking up a man and not switching off in dead ball situations. This problem could be traced to our lack of leaders at the back, not having someone to be giving orders making sure everyone has a man.
How big a miss will Pulisic be, and do you feel there’s anyone who could step up to the mantel?
Sam: Obviously last time out against Burnley, Pulisic was the star of the show. He scored a hat-trick which kicked off his scoring streak but has failed to impress since then. He has had a few small injuries since then but really struggled to recreate that form. Even if he were fit I would have started Willian and CHO over him so he shouldn’t be missed too much. Hopefully, he gets fit and can get back to fighting for a first-team place as soon as possible.
Would you have any interest in Lemar the latest rumour going around?
Sam: Lemar is a definite no for me. Yes, he was an integral part to that Monaco team that took Europe by storm but since the team was picked apart by the European giants he has failed to excite. Since his move to Atleti he managed 6 g/a in 31 appearances in his first season, and none in 15 games thus far this year. A loan does sound appealing but if you look deeper at the player in question, he really isn’t better than anything we already have.
And Finally, Jose Mourinho style can you predict Burnley’s lineup and give us yours?
Pope; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brady, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood.
Kepa; James, Zouma, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante; Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Abraham