The Runner Sports

Time For Bakayoko And Batchuayi To Step Up For Chelsea

The injury bug has hit Chelsea Football Club with both Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante dealing with injuries. With a high volume of fixtures coming up for Chelsea, this is a crucial time. And due to their lack of player depth, they can ill-afford either one of these players to be out long-term.

In Chelsea’s last Premier League fixture against Manchester City, Morata limped off the field with a hamstring issue. Though the severity in initial reports was grim, he may be back sooner rather than later. Reports on Wednesday indicate he may even be training with the squad already, which is good news moving forward.

Not as great news for Kante, though, who got injured while playing for France over the international break. He is expected to be ruled out for Chelsea’s upcoming match against Crystal Palace and reports suggest he will miss a few weeks.

Both are key players for Chelsea and missing them for any amount of time will mean others will have to step up. Their depth is a serious issue, as they did not bring in enough players to stem injury concerns such as this. In the coming games, two players who are in line to step up are Tiémoué Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi.

Tiemoue Bakayoko

Bakayoko has all the tools. He is 6-feet, 170 pounds and has good speed for a man of his size. He also brings a physical presence to the pitch. At times, he can be a bit reckless, but he is still young at only 23 years old. Composure will come.

His energy combined with his physicality is a weapon. Early on in his Chelsea career, he has shown the ability to be a ball-winning midfielder. And playing alongside Kante and his fantastic defensive instincts only helps his maturation process. I have been impressed with how well he reads the game. And due to his speed, he can win balls and dribble upfield himself. A helpful trait.

As well as being a good dribbler, he has shown he can distribute the ball, too. On the season, he has a pass success rate of 85.4%. In comparison, Kante has a pass success rate of 85.6% and Cesc Fabregas is at 82.8%. However, Bakayoko only attempts 30 passes per game, compared to Kante’s 53.6 and Fabregas’s 66, so that has to be taken into consideration a bit.

But with Kante out of the lineup, Bakayoko should have more opportunities to make passes and his success rate on his passes so far is a good indication of the type of player he can be in a larger role. He is an all-around player and even has a goal on the season. Kante will be missed, but Bakayoko is one to keep your eye on as he develops this season.

Michy Batshuayi

Despite scoring the game-winning goal at the death in Madrid only a few days prior, Conte snubbed him against City when Morata left the match injured. Instead, he brought on Willian. Batshuayi was not brought on until the 73rd minute. Looking back, that was a coaching error plain and simple. Without a number nine up front to do some hold-up play and test City’s backline, Chelsea became overmatched in the midfield; evidenced by Kevin De Bruyne game-winning goal.

Heading into Saturday’s match against woeful Crystal Palace, Batshuayi should be given the chance to start. He has looked good in the limited time he has been on the pitch. In all competitions, he has scored five goals and those five goals happened in only 287 minutes of play. Divide that up and he has scored a goal every 57.4 minutes of playing time. If he featured as a starter all season I would not expect him to keep up that pace, but it can’t be dismissed as nothing. When he has been on the field, he has produced.

And due to the alarming lack of depth at forward, Conte has almost no choice but to start Batshuayi if Morata is not fit to go. Through seven games in the Premier League season, Palace has yet to score and has allowed a whopping 17. So, no need to rush Morata back into action if he is not 100% healthy. Chelsea has enough starting talent to get the win come Saturday.

Matthew Golda

Dedicated New York sports fan. Chelsea FC writer at The Runner Sports.