1) Which position would you say needs addressing in this window if any?

If you asked a few months ago, many would point to left-back as an area of urgent improvement. While we could still certainly do with a stronger option on the left side of defence, we seem to have a strong solution for the remainder of the season.

Frank Lampard has benefitted greatly from playing Reece James at right-back, with César Azpilicueta putting in some strong performances on the left while alternating with Emerson. While Chelsea should look at bringing in a top left-back, they should wait until summer when there is more time and more options.

If Olivier Giroud is on his way to Inter Milan, a third striker is a must. Chelsea just about managed to cope with two strikers for the majority of last season, but that was only because Eden Hazard was available to play as a false nine. It may be worth bringing in a striker on loan, before signing a permanent replacement in the summer.

2) With uncertainty in RLC’s injury length would you rule him out for the season, giving him a fresh start for pre-season?

If Ruben Loftus-Cheek ready to come back into the starting eleven, the opportunity should be taken but not rushed. It would be great to see the Englishman feature as soon as possible after eight months out, but we cannot risk extending his time on the sidelines because of rashness and impatience.

I would relish at the sight of seeing Loftus-Cheek this season, but if he’s not ready until April or May then waiting is the best option. A fresh start and the extra few months of pre-season would really benefit him, especially in the long-term when he is hopefully a regular once again in the Chelsea side.

3) With Callum looking the part at RW in recent weeks do you think this could be his position long term?

Callum Hudson-Odoi has certainly impressed in recent weeks, flourishing on the right alongside Reece James. Keeping these two together on the right flank may be the future for Chelsea, and with Hudson-Odoi looking far more dangerous there, it wouldn’t be daft to keep him there for the foreseeable future.

4) What have you made of Barkley in recent matches and would you start him this weekend?

Ross Barkley has surprised me, to say the least. A player who seemed to be in exile since that infamous penalty miss against Valencia, it was interesting to see him back against Nottingham Forest. Despite the goal he had an average game, nothing too special and nothing too dreadful.

Burnley was his first league appearance in three months, and his first full 90 minutes in the Premier League since August. Again, it was a quite average performance in my eyes, though he deserves praise for his goal-line clearance. That being said, I would start him on Saturday, as he’s in good form and great confidence following his goal in the FA Cup.

5) Are there any threats you feel Newcastle can impose on your team?

Newcastle are a strong team from set pieces, with physicality a key strength of Steve Bruce’s side. Their danger from corners is certainly something to be concerned about, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the Magpies nicked a goal from a set piece.

6) What would be your team for the game against Newcastle?

I would make sure I keep a strong team for the trip to Tyneside, but I would certainly be keeping an eye on Arsenal just three days later. My team has three changes from Saturday’s win over Burnley, while keeping the 4-3-3 formation that has worked so well.

Emerson comes in for Azpilicueta, who I feel should be rested ahead of Tuesday’s London derby. I also think Kurt Zouma should come in for Antonio Rüdiger for rotation, while Mateo Kovačić replaces Willian. The Croatian would drop into the midfield three alongside Barkley and Jorginho, while Mason Mount moves into left-wing.

Arrizabalaga

James – Christensen – Zouma – Emerson

Barkley – Jorginho – Kovačić

Hudson-Odoi – Abraham – Mount

It’s going to be another important match in the race for the top four, and a tricky test up north. However, I think Chelsea should come away with a hard-fought victory, as the Blues hopefully continue their strong form on the road


Follow me on Twitter: @NischalCFC

Read more of my work at nischalsp.wordpress.com

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