With Loic Remy a doubt and Diego Costa almost certainly unavailable for Sunday’s clash against Manchester United, Chelsea’s formidable squad looks weaker than it has done at any point thus far this season.
Didier Drogba is the obvious choice for inclusion in Remy’s place, and the legendary striker got himself on the scoresheet last night against Maribor, which bodes well for the future.
However, Jose Mourinho is known as an occasional risk taker when it comes to young talent.
Raphael Varane, undoubtedly one of the best young defenders in Europe today, was blooded by Mourinho at Real Madrid.
Forget the Premier League, making a decision like that about a young talent while in charge of the Spanish giants takes some serious belief. The smallest mistake at Real is analysed time and time again.
This is why Dominic Solanke, who made an appearance from the bench against Maribor last night, could find himself involved once again at Old Trafford on Sunday.
It’s obvious that the player has significant talent, having scored 20 goals in 25 games for the Under-18s last season.
He was also key as the club won the FA Youth Cup against Fulham, with Solanke performing with aplomb in front of a busy, if not full, Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho himself believes that Solanke has the potential to be a great, and said that he would blame himself if he didn’t achieve over the next few years.
In the summer, Mourinho said: “My conscience tells me that if, for example, [Lewis] Baker, [Izzy] Brown, and [Dominic] Solanke are not national team players in a few years, I should blame myself.”
As for the style of play, Solanke would be the right sort of striker to batter Man Utd’s questionable defence.
Much like Saido Berainho on Monday night, Solanke is skilled at running along the line of the defence, and this is something that none of Man Utd’s defenders are particularly good at dealing with.
Marcos Rojo, who is a more natural left back, and Phil Jones both look relatively comfortable when defending high balls, but neither have the commanding presence or the ability to turn to deal with a striker running between them.
Unlike teams from the past, none of the defenders offer an experienced voice to control the line, which is why Rafael was caught so deep for West Brom’s second goal.
With a player like Cesc Fabregas, who has provided seven assists in the Premier League, joint top with Dusan Tadic, behind him, able to thread through balls between the defenders, Solanke could plunder any opportunities given to him.
It would not be surprising to see him involved in some form on Sunday, and for that reason, Man Utd fans should fear his potential to do damage.