1) How crucial is that injury to Reece James going into the game against Arsenal?

Given how he has been playing recently, it could be costly. James has been Chelsea’s man of the match in his last few appearances – certainly against Newcastle, Burnley and Nottingham Forest – and his role at right-back has been decisive in our results.

Chelsea can cope without James, but with his recent positive influence through his delighftul crossing and energetic play, he will be a big miss for Arsenal. Emerson and César Azpilicueta will do the job as full backs, but without James we’ll certainly lack that extra bit of flair and quality.

2) What did you make of the goal conceded and the chances missed by Chelsea?

The goal was devastating, I was just in silence and absolute shock. It wasn’t necessarily one player’s fault, but we were just caught cold for a split second that allowed Isaac Hayden to get the connection he wanted. That’s up there with one of the most frustrating goals we’ve conceded this season, purely because of the timing of it.

The chances missed were just as infuriating, but none of them were absolute sitters in my opinion. Tammy Abraham’s tight angle miss was unfortunate and N’Golo Kanté should’ve scored from close range, but they were more of a case of not taking our chances rather than being absolutely wasteful.

3) With the CB combination changing with such regularity what do you believe is the issue defensively?

There’s a lack of a unit at the back, and we haven’t been able to settle on one sure fire back four. Look at Liverpool for example: we know that every game it’s going to be Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold. They are one unit and a defence that play game in game out, meaning they play better together.

The problem is we don’t know for sure what our top centre-back combination – and for that matter our top back four – is. Five months in and we’re still asking questions which centre-back partnership is the best and deciding who should play at right-back, and until we discover the true Chelsea defence these issues will keep coming to punish us.

4) What did you make of Mason Mount’s performance?

I think it was an average performance. He wasn’t outstanding but he also wasn’t dreadful, despite what reactionary Twitter fans will tell you. His movement and positioning was good, but I feel that sometimes his passing and distribution of the ball wasn’t up to scratch.

It wasn’t his finest display, but I still have faith in him. Mason Mount will only keep improving and becoming stronger as a footballer, and to all those fans screaming and criticising him for every wrong step he takes, I tell you to stop being so reactionary and appreciate that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a footballer.

5) Does the win ratio with N’Golo Kanté in the team have an effect on your long term thinking?

While the stats in question are intriguing, they don’t tell the story of his performance. I think Kanté was decent against Newcastle, with some of his recoveries and interceptions top class. His presence on the pitch is unfair to blame Chelsea’s form on and is frankly a ridiculous factor to use. If there’s one player to blame, it’s definitely not N’Golo.

Kanté is still performing well for Chelsea, and while admittedly they may not be as outstanding as his displays in previous seasons, his positive role in the side is still pivotal for Chelsea. Whatever the stats might say, they simply do not show the whole picture, and the Frenchman remains a key player in my long-term thinking.

6) Do you think there’s a mentality issue within the side?

I think it’s harsh to judge the team’s mentality from a fan’s perspective: only Lampard knows whether there’s a mentality issue. That being said, at times this season it has seemed like the team doesn’t have the right mentality, where they don’t seem like they want to play and seem dead and deflated.

It’s difficult to decide whether there is actually a mentality problem within the first team, though there has to be a reason for some of Chelsea’s poor performances. I don’t believe there is a mentality issue, but there is something that is affecting the team that causes performances and moments like these.

7) What do you think was the main issue today?

It was the issue we’ve seen so many times this season. We started really well and were on top in the first half, and as the game unravelled we lost our momentum and energy. The key issues has to be not taking our chances, rather than the shots on goal the actual moves created and actual opportunities to score.

So many times, Chelsea had the chance to break the deadlock. Newcastle deserve credit for their defending but we broke through so many times yet just didn’t capitalise. It’s a problem we’ve seen far too often this season: lack of ruthlessness, loss of momentum, lapse in concentration.

8) Going into Arsenal, what changes would you make to the side that started today?

For me, Mateo Kovačić needs to be back in the starting eleven. It’s beyond me why he played no part in Saturday’s defeat, and if there’s any game we need him back fully rested and raring to go, it’s a huge London derby at the Bridge. I’d bring him in for Mason Mount, to restore the midfield trio alongside Jorginho and N’Golo Kanté.

I’d also bring in Fikayo Tomori for Antonio Rüdiger, as I feel we need a different defensive dynamic for the visit of Arsenal. We cannot go into Tuesday’s London derby with the same backline that collapsed in the dying seconds, and I believe Tomori would do well to come in and fix that.


Azpilicueta – Christensen – Tomori – Emerson

Jorginho – Kanté – Kovačić

Willian – Abraham – Hudson-Odoi

The visit of Arsenal is going to be a huge one, and no doubt an exciting one. There needs to be a big response for the derby match, and I trust that Chelsea can bounce back from disappointment and make it a memorable night in SW6.

Follow me on Twitter: @NischalCFC

Read more of my work at nischalsp.wordpress.com

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