Chelsea host Nottingham Forest on matchday 4 of the Premier League at Stamford Bridge. The Blues picked up their first win of the season last weekend against Luton Town after a comfortable 3-0 victory over the newly promoted side with Raheem Sterling scoring twice and assisting the third goal for Nicolas Jackson. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have had a mixed bag start to the season having picked up one win, one draw and one loss in the opening 3 games of the season. They currently sit 10th in the league and will be up against Nottingham Forest who are just a point off the Blues.
Steve Cooper’s men have had a difficult run of opening fixtures as they faced Arsenal and Manchester United away from home, both of which ended in a defeat. The midweek EFL Cup clash against Burnley saw the Reds get knocked out of the cup after succumbing to yet another defeat. With just 1 win so far in 4 games in all competitions, the pressure is building on Cooper and Co. to start building momentum and avoid a relegation battle like last season.
When and Where?
Date: 2nd September, 2023
Time: 2:00 PM GMT
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistants: Richard West, Derek Eaton
Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury
VAR: Tony Harrington
Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn
The Blues will be without their long-term absentees Benoit Badiashile, Wesley Fofana and Christopher Nkunku. Noni Madueke played in the midweek EFL cup fixture against AFC Wimbledon and will be back in contention to start at the weekend. Mykhailo Mudryk also returned to full first-team training though he remains a doubt for the game as it might come too early for the Ukranian. Armando Broja has been training with the first team though there remains no clarity on his return. Romeo Lavia is scheduled to return to training in 2 weeks’ time as he is nursing an injury he picked up while at Southampton at the start of the season and Trevoh Chalobah will also miss out.
As for Nottingham Forest, Steve Cooper will be without Scott McKenna, Felipe, Wayne Henessey and Orel Mangala who are all injured. New loanee Andrey Santos will be ineligible to play against his parent club while other new signing Murillo could make his debut. While they have lost Brennan Johnson to Tottenham, they have also gained Nuno Tavares from Arsenal, and Gonzalo Montiel in their full-back union. Nottingham are also looking to complete addition of Ibrahim Sangare, on deadline day.
Chelsea have played the 3-5-2/3-4-3 hybrid under Poch in all their league games so far this season barring the recently concluded midweek EFL cup clash against AFC Wimbledon wherein Pochettino went with his 4-2-3-1 system. The return of Noni Madueke could pose a selection headache for the Argentine as the English winger looked lively in his first appearance of the season in the EFL Cup game.
To go toe-to-toe with Forest, it looks likely that Poch will revert back to the 3-at-the-back system he has used in the league to avoid being numerically exposed against Steve Cooper’s men. Ben Chilwell and Malo Gusto will return to the starting XI as the two wingbacks and their importance was seen last weekend against Luton as both the fullbacks were the creative outlet for the Blues on the flanks often causing numerical overloads and getting in behind their markers to cross the ball in the penalty area.
Forest were unlucky in their 3-2 loss against Manchester United as they took a 2-0 lead in the first 5 minutes of the game. United looked shaky in defence throughout the game but had control of the game in crucial moments helping them take all 3 points. Cooper and Co. can take that performance as an example to build on and look to cause problems for Chelsea too who have conceded 4 goals in 3 games. The exact same tactics will be the go-to plan for Cooper which is to sit deep and play on the counter which will be a frustrating sight for Chelsea as they have found it difficult to break teams down who adopt this style of play.
It will be a fierce battle between the two sides as Pochettino will want to continue the momentum and help the Blues win their third consecutive competitive match for the first time since March. Cooper on the other hand will look to cause an upset for the Blues and start building consistency as he has the squad to compete for Premier League survival this season.
The Englishman’s electric start to the season earned him the Player of the Match award against Luton Town as he was involved in all 3 goals for the Blues. His chemistry with Malo Gusto on the right-hand side seems to be a problem for the opposition defences to manage and Sterling will yet again be the West London side’s key player this weekend. Pochettino seems to have found the recipe for Sterling to flourish but can the 28-year-old continue cooking?
The Nigerian has scored in all 3 games of the season so far for Forest and will be the danger man for the Blues defence to handle. His ability to hold up play and physical prowess has helped his side create chances during counter attacks. A similar performance like the one against Manchester United will be needed by Awoniyi to continue his excellent goalscoring run and help Nottingham Forest get something out of the game.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Sanchez, Disasi, Silva, Colwill, Gusto, Caicedo, Enzo, Chilwell, Madueke, Jackson, Sterling.
Nottingham Forest (3-4-3): Turner, Boly, Worrall, Niakhate, Aurier, Yates, Danilo, Aina, Gibbs White, Awoniyi, Elanga.