Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea needs Christopher Nkunku to be fit.

Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea needs Christopher Nkunku to be fit.

While Christopher Nkunku is sidelined due to injury, Mauricio Pochettino acknowledges that Chelsea is lacking depth in attacking positions.

Only in December did the France international return from a five-month layoff following knee surgery; however, a hip problem has kept him out of the team’s last two games.


Before Chelsea’s FA Cup victory over Preston on January 6, he was unable to train. The manager expressed uncertainty about when Nkunku, who finished as the Bundesliga’s top scorer with 16 goals for RB Leipzig before moving to west London for £52 million, will be able to resume training.

Pochettino has limited options without Nkunku because fellow summer signing Nicolas Jackson will be away for Senegal’s participation in the Africa Cup of Nations for probably the remainder of the month, and Armando Broja is still trying to get back on track after missing nine months due to an ACL injury.


Chelsea’s goal-scoring performance has greatly improved from the previous campaign, when their 38 goals was the team’s lowest in the league in nearly a century.


At the halfway point of the Premier League season, they currently have 34, but they have consistently struggled to break teams down and have been unable to turn high possession numbers into obvious opportunities.

They enjoyed 72 per cent of the ball and had 18 shots on goal during Tuesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg away to Middlesbrough, yet still slumped to a 1-0 defeat at the Riverside.


Pochettino stated, “I’m a little worried because I don’t have all the information (about Nkunku’s injury).” “Whether or not he will be prepared, or accessible (after) a brief time.


“We must exercise extreme clinical judgment and, when feasible, make a choice. If not, we must consider how to resolve the issue.”


Before suffering a knee injury in a match against Borussia Dortmund in Chicago, the 26-year-old showed off during the team’s preseason tour of the United States.


That threw doubt on Pochettino’s initial plans, as he had hoped to use Nkunku as the center of his team’s new-look attack, and put pressure on Jackson and Broja, who are both still only 22 years old, to assume the role of goal scorer.


To strengthen their attack in January, the team has been linked to moves for Brighton’s Evan Ferguson and Brentford’s Ivan Toney.


“Nkunku was the sole player who was playing in Germany, albeit in a different league,” stated Pochettino. “But scoring goals on a regular basis. Before the season began, things were as they were.


“When the injury occurred, we had to find out about Jackson leaving Villarreal, where he wasn’t a top scorer, and Broja following a year of absence due to injury.

“The players are young men who must adjust to their age. We felt the blow of (losing) Nkunku a little bit more because of this.


“He was scoring goals on a regular basis. When a player like Jackson is gone, you hope that other players may have come to the team and will have time to develop and score goals. Jackson’s goal has to be scored with every touch.


“Or Broja needs to play three straight games after missing a year. It’s challenging for him.


It makes our work more challenging. Although this project is exciting, circumstances such as these make it more challenging. You must develop at a distinct rate.”







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