Football Betting

Josh Barker: Chelsea have all the tools to become Premier League powerhouse once they fix key issue


Chelsea faced off with Luton Town in a Premier League meeting on Saturday and ran out 3-2 winners on the day.

It was by no means a clinical display from the Blues, who conceded twice late on to endure a very nervy end to the 90 minutes.

However, Chelsea’s last two outings have showcased the sheer amount of young talent at the west London outfit’s disposal following their mammoth spending in recent years.

Cole Palmer netted twice and assisted once against Luton and has now both scored and assisted in four different Premier League games this season, more than any other player.

Palmer also has the second-most goals and assists in Europe’s big five leagues this season by players currently aged 21 or younger (12) - only Jude Bellingham (15) has more.

Mauricio Pochettino was full of praise for both Palmer and fellow youngster Noni Madueke - the other goalscorer against Luton - post-match. On Palmer, he said: “What can I say? It is obvious he is an important player for us. Decisive player. Then scoring goals like this, I am so pleased with him and the team.”

On Madueke, Pochettino added: “We have a group of players that all need to feel confident and they need to feel they can fight for their place. That is why you have a bigger squad, I think we have numbers and if we are all fit we have many players there that can perform and play. It is positive to increase the level in this position.”

Chelsea’s starting line-up vs Luton was pretty young, with Thiago Silva vs the only played above 26. Against Crystal Palace on December 27, meanwhile, Chelsea named their youngest ever Premier League starting XI (23 years, 21 days), which was the youngest XI named by a Premier League team since Manchester United against Crystal Palace in May 2017 (22y 284d) and the eighth-youngest ever by any side in Premier League history.

Chelsea were able to win both of their most recent games with very young squads. Granted, their overall performance this season has been by no means great but it is clear Chelsea have all the building blocks of a side that could dominate England for years to come.

They have two dominant centre-halves in Axel Disasi and Benoit Badiashille waiting to take the place of veteran Thiago Silva, with 20-year-old Levi Colwill also coming into his own despite playing out of position at left-back.

On the other side of their defence, meanwhile, 20-year-old Malo Gusto has stepped up in Reece James’ absence, with an injury of his own the only thing limiting his already solid assist tally this term.

In midfield, meanwhile, Conor Gallagher has finally shown his true quality in a Chelsea shirt, with Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia no doubt set to prove their worth once they are fully settled in at the club as well.

And, as previously mentioned, Chelsea’s attack is littered with promising prospects like Palmer and Madueke, with 22-year-old Mykhaylo Mudryk also finally finding his feet in England.

As Arsenal have shown, though, young squads can struggle in bigger games when it really matters, but Chelsea should still be happy with the potential they have pretty much all over the pitch currently.

However, there is one big issue they must fix in the near future, their wasteful attack. It was revealed just over a week ago that Chelsea had failed to convert 36 big chances in the Premier League this season (21/57 scored), the most of any team in the division. Perhaps even more concerningly, Nicolas Jackson has missed 12 of those 36 big chances.

Jackson has become something of a laughing stock on social media this season for his often comical misses and it is clear Chelsea need to invest in another no.9 soon. But if the Blues can find a striker who is capable of finishing off chances on a consistent basis, their squad has the potential to be challenging for the league title in the coming campaigns.

Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.