Nemanja Matic’s red-card against Burnley will prompt a domestic suspension that is widely expected to cost Chelsea dearly in the coming games.
The fact that they are a lesser team without the Serb has been well documented; two of their three losses this term have coincided with his absence from the starting XI.
Meanwhile the only foes they have beaten without his assistance were lower division fare in Bolton, Shrewsbury and Watford.
The bwin odds moguls go 7/2 about Chelsea winning all three of the games he’s suspended for, but one or two victories from the clashes with Tottenham, West Ham and Southampton are both rated more likely at 5/2.
However, the Blues’ exploits in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League, when Matic was cup tied but already an integral part of the side, suggest it is possible for them to succeed without him.
Both Galatasaray and Paris Saint-Germain were disposed of 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the former Benfica totem’s absence after first legs that had left the ties in the balance.
But what do those games tell us about how Chelsea should operate without Matic?
The most striking thing about both sides is the utter lack of John Obi Mikel, with Jose Mourinho instead choosing to shun an out and out sitting detail in favour of a more attacking setup.
It makes sense too…Why play to rely upon your ability to repel the opposition if key contributors to that way of playing are absent.
David Luiz was arguably the most defensive player used, but his well-documented lack of positional discipline meant he was a far cry from Matic or the Nigerian.
What his inclusion against Les Parisiens (and Ramires’ against the Turks) does suggest is that an energetic runner was Jose Mourinho’s preferred replacement.
Alongside whomsoever played that role, Frank Lampard’s worldy wisdom was entrusted to with choosing defensively appropriate moments to support the attack.
Having done so at Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas could be relied on to play that role in the Capital One Cup final against Tottenham, which Chelsea are 7/10 to win.
Meanwhile, further forward the none-more defensively disciplined Willian could reprise the number ten role he played so well against Everton.
This would allow Juan Cuadrado to carry the fight to the Lilywhites on the right flank while the energetic pressing of the Brazilian would get the Blues defending higher up the pitch.