Mauricio Pochettino to consider one big Chelsea change for Nottingham Forest amid six boosts

Mauricio Pochettino celebrates
Mauricio Pochettino celebrates after Chelsea's 6-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge -Credit:Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC

Chelsea's 2023/24 season is quickly drawing to a close.

A trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday evening awaits the Blues, who will have just two matches remaining after the game at the City Ground. Forest, who sit in 17th-place after seeing their appeal against their four-point deduction fail, are fighting for their lives to remain in the Premier League.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side could ensure top-flight status should they pick up at least a point against Chelsea and Luton lose away at West Ham earlier in the afternoon. The City Ground is a cauldron of noise usually, especially when Forest need the support from their fans – so Chelsea will have to deal with a fairly hostile atmosphere on Saturday.

After some progress at Stamford Bridge, where the Blues picked up back-to-back victories against Tottenham and West Ham, it is now time for Mauricio Pochettino's team to show such form on the road. A European place is still on the cards for Chelsea, who like Forest, have so much left to play for as the season reaches its conclusion next weekend.

Resounding wins against Spurs and the Hammers mean Pochettino will not want to change too much despite a staggering six players returning from injury during Sunday's win versus the Irons. The likes of Christopher Nkunku, Thiago Silva, Malo Gusto, Axel Disasi, Raheem Sterling and Levi Colwill all returned to the squad at Stamford Bridge after injury layoffs, although the latter two were not used from the bench.

It comes just at the right time for Chelsea, who are looking to build on the momentum they have created in the last two-and-a-half games – with a second-half fightback against Aston Villa, too, last month. While Pochettino will not want to change too much from the winning formula, he could be tempted by a couple of players coming back into the team.

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One change he could make, though, is the return of Gusto. The 20-year-old right-back has been a revelation since moving to Chelsea from Lyon last summer after the two clubs agreed a deal in January 2023 for his transfer.

Gusto came on for the final 13 minutes of the win against West Ham having missed the previous three matches due to a minor injury problem. The Frenchman, with Reece James still absent and looking increasingly likely to miss the remainder of the season, is Chelsea's only natural senior right-back available at the moment.

Trevoh Chalobah did a fine job there against West Ham but the team looks a lot more balanced when Gusto is on the right-hand side. He offers much more going forward and in a game where Chelsea are expected to have more possession, that could prove critical in breaking Forest down in Nottingham.

It begs the question, though, about what happens in the centre-back roles should Gusto come back in. Silva and Benoit Badiashile were both fantastic in the win against West Ham. However, Chalobah has been Chelsea's most consistent defender since returning from injury just less than three months ago.

Marc Cucurella is expected to continue in his new hybrid role at left-back, where the Spaniard tucks into the midfield when the Blues are in possession. Since making that change at half-time in the draw with Aston Villa, Chelsea have scored nine goals and are yet to concede.