Three ways Chelsea could line up with Christopher Nkunku to take attack to the next level
Mauricio Pochettino has some really intriguing options as £52m summer signing prepares for his competitive debut
Christopher Nkunku is closing in on his Chelsea debut after missing the start of the season due to a knee injury.
His imminent return raises a question for Mauricio Pochettino – where will the £52million summer signing play in an improving team?
Nkunku is expected back in full training soon and could finally make his debut against Newcastle on Saturday
His absence hit Chelsea hard during their early season struggle for goals. Pochettino had built his attack around Nkunku on the pre-season tour of the United States, when the France international scored three goals in four matches.
Eight goals in two games against Manchester City and Tottenham mean Nkunku returns to an improving Chelsea, but he could also take this attack to the next level.
Here, Standard Sport assesses how Chelsea might line up with him.
Striker option in a 4-2-3-1
Sanchez; James, Disasi, Thiago Silva, Colwill; Fernandez, Caicedo; Palmer, Gallagher, Sterling; Nkunku
Nkunku’s most straightforward way into the team is to take Nicolas Jackson’s spot as the central striker.
Jackson scored a hat-trick against Tottenham which took him to a creditable seven goals in 14 matches this season.
But he has looked nervous in matches against lesser teams and struggled to be a focal point against opposition that set up in a low block
Nkunku is smaller than Jackson but can play as a No9 through good aerial ability, a knack for producing a variety of finishes and his ability to stretch defences with his running in behind.
No10 in a 4-2-3-1
Sanchez; James, Disasi, Thiago Silva, Colwill; Fernandez, Caicedo; Palmer, Nkunku, Sterling; Jackson
Cole Palmer is one of the first names on the Chelsea team sheet and his favoured position is at No10.
Nkunku is also excellent in the central attacking position, which could see him and Palmer interchanging positions to bamboozle any man markers.
Wide role in a 4-2-3-1
Sanchez; James, Disasi, Thiago Silva, Colwill; Fernandez, Caicedo; Nkunku, Palmer, Sterling, Jackson
Nkunku plays in wide positions a little differently from wingers Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk.
Like Palmer, he prefers to drift into central positions and play as close to the goal as possible.
With Nkunku out wide, a full-back like Reece James could overlap him to provide width, in a similar fashion to how James links up with Palmer at the moment.
It’s unlikely Sterling will make way for Nkunku after arguably his best display for Chelsea against his former club Manchester City just before the international break.