Fans’ dreams of Gusto and James in the same team already shown to be foolish

You could feel it coming. The moment Reece James banged in that perfect cross for Nicolas Jackson to head home against Nottingham Forest to win the game, the fingers were already rattling on keyboards: how will Chelsea fit both James and Malo Gusto into the same team?

Already wild plans were being drawn up featuring James moving into midfield, or Gusto playing down the left. All sorts of mental gymnastics were being done to try and squeeze both right backs into the team at the same time.

But last night’s game brought everyone back to reality. They are two fantastic options, but as this season has proved, that doesn’t mean you need two spaces in the team. Between injury, fatigue and suspension, there’s going to be more than enough matches for each next season, especially with European football secured.

Even this year, with no Europe, we’ve had long spells with Axel Disasi or Trevoh Chalobah filling in on the right hand side of defence when Gusto and James’ regular absences synchronised.

Malo Gusto and Reece James compete in training.

 

Two is just enough – and definitely not too many

Last night was a perfect reminder of that – James got a red card which rules him out for this weekend’s game as well as for the first 3 games next season. Gusto seemed to pick up a knock. We don’t know how severe it is, but there’s a chance he’s out for Sunday’s game and we end up back with no right back just a week after some people were stressing about how we would manage having two.

In the modern game, especially at such a demanding position, you need two top class options. Gusto has proved a fantastic alternate for James, and our objective this summer should be to find a similar player for the left hand side. If they’re both fit, that’s not an issue, in fact it’s a bonus. What could be better than having one of them run their opposite number ragged for 60 minutes, then throwing on the other? The reduced minutes should help protect them both from a lot of minor injuries too.

For now, let’s just enjoy having options – and hope that Gusto’s knock is minor and he is able to play on Sunday. It really would be quite darkly funny to end up with the true reality check of Chalobah or Disasi back in place so soon.

Tags Malo Gusto Reece James

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