Chelsea have been dealt positive and negative news on the injury front ahead of their Premier League encounter with Brighton & Hove Albion, as Frank Lampard can expect Andreas Christensen back in his line-up at the weekend, according to Goal. The negative being that left-back Emerson Palmieri has been ruled out of Chelsea’s next three matches( at least) after he had to be substituted during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Christensen had left Lampard facing a defensive crisis after suffering a knee injury in a freak collision with teammate Fikayo Tomori against Liverpool, while Antonio Rudiger is still on the sidelines with a groin problem.

Lampard’s concerns have been eased somewhat with Christensen expected to be fit should after sitting out his side’s 7-1 trashing of Grimsby Town, meaning he can join Kurt Zouma and Tomori in preparing for their next league game.

But while Lampard can expect Christensen back to face the Seagulls after being given the all-clear by the Blues’ medical staff, Emerson Palmieri will not be returning to the fold until at least mid-October.

The Italian full-back suffered a recurrence of the thigh problem which meant he missed his side’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the feeling is that he returned too early to face Liverpool, resulting in his substation after 15 minutes.

Marcos Alonso retains his spot

Despite struggling against Liverpool, and being awarded a five out of ten rating for his efforts by the Express as he was badly beaten in the air for Roberto Firmino’s goal, Lampard will have no choice but to allow Marcos Alonso to retain the reins at left-back against Brighton if Emerson is not fit.

Alonso was Maurizio Sarri’s first-choice last season, but the Madrid-born full-back has only started Chelsea’s trip to Wolves this term, and failed to leave the bench against either of Manchester United, Leicester City or Sheffield United via TransferMarkt.

A return to the level of form which saw him cement his importance to Sarri could provide Lampard with food for thought once Emerson is fit again, as the Italian may find he has to fight to regain his spot in the starting line-up.

Ian Maatsen promoted to the senior fold

Ian Maatsen joined Chelsea’s academy in 2018 from PSV Eindhoven after three years in the Eredivisie side’s youth set-up, and may now be in line for a promotion to the Blues’ senior fold as Lampard looks to add depth beyond Alonso.

The Netherlands U17 international is yet to make his competitive Chelsea first-team debut as per TransferMarkt, but has 12 outings with their U23s to his name, along with 11 for their U18s and ten in the UEFA Youth League with the Blues’ U19s via the same source.

And after getting 24 minutes to his belt in the Carabao Cup win over Grimsby Town, Lampard would surely have made his judgements from the “audition” time he afforded the youngster.

He would be the current backup/deputy to Alonso as it stands. And considering Chelsea face Lille in the Champions League on Wednesday after Saturday’s League game against Brighton, we might surely see more of Ian Maatsen around.

RETURN TO THREE AT THE BACK?

Lampard’s main decision with the absence of Emerson will be if he has enough defensive and offensive support in starting Alonso, and could favour a return to the three at the back formation used against Wolves and Valencia (via Whoscored) if he feels the Spaniard would not offer the defensive cover needed.

What may count against its return, though is that the Blues boss only has three senior centre-backs on offer to face Brighton in Christensen, Zouma and Tomori, so may be hesitant to start them all in case one picks up a knock.

Zouma has not been the best defensively this season, either, with the Frenchman only averaging 0.5 successful tackles per ninety minutes from his 360 minutes so far as per WhoScored, which is a quarter of that recorded by Christensen and Rudiger and a massive 3.2 successful tackles less than Tomori via the same source.

Conclusion

The loss of Emerson for a while would be a massive blow to Lampard as the Brazilian has been a shining light this season in a Chelsea defence that has looked majorly underwhelming. For Marcus Alonso, it could yet be his chance to reclaim a spot in the Chelsea squad and show he still has it in him afterall. With rumours over the summer claiming the Spanish defender already agreed a deal to move to Atletico Madrid, this could be his chance to remain at the club or the 28-year-old might end up somewhere else next summer – especially with the likes of more youth players knocking at the door.