For the second time in a row Chelsea entered the international break on a high after scoring four goals. Compared to the relative positive that beating Burnley 4-1 was at the end of October the 4-4 draw with Manchester City felt like a coming of age performance from a young team.
The job is not yet done though and even taking four points from six against the top two heading into last weekend won't be enough to let Mauricio Pochettino off if his side slip up in the next run of games. Having come out unscathed from three of the toughest matches of the season so far there are still trips to Newcastle and Old Trafford to contend with either side of hosting Brighton.
This patch of fixtures no longer looks as daunting after firing eight goals in during a week but the inconsistency of this team has fooled many before and will do so again before the end of the season, no doubt. The difference is that this time Christopher Nkunku is gearing up for a debut.
After spending much of the past three months giving intermittent warnings that the Frenchman wouldn't be back until December or even early 2024 Pochettino finally gave a hint of a greenlight. «We had some conversation and he said to me I want to be ready for after the international break, Newcastle,» the manager said before the Manchester City clash.
«I asked him yesterday [about a return] and he said 'hmmm,'» Pochettino continued. «And I said you are liar!» Nkunku though is now as close as he ever has been to a first competitive appearance. The fortnight break gives him the perfect chance to get ready as well. With that in mind, football.london has taken a look at the best and worst-case scenarios in the weeks ahead.
Chelsea face Newcastle twice before Christmas. First up isRead on football.london