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How Zakaria injury return could unlock Enzo Fernandez’s biggest strength – shown in lineup



Denis Zakaria appears to have recovered from hamstring injury as he was spotted on Chelsea’s training pitch on Monday.

It’s not clear when he would be fit to play but hopefully, it’s not too long before he can start games.

With N’Golo Kante not expected back until the end of the month and Jorginho gone to Arsenal, the Swiss international is the only true defensive-minded midfielder in Chelsea’s squad.

The absence of a natural holding midfielder forced Potter to play Chelsea marquee signing Enzo Fernandez in this position in the 0-0 draw against Fulham.

While the World Cup winner did extremely well against the Cottagers, it’s clear that his creativity suffered from playing too deep.

Enzo’s creativity and vision are his biggest strengths. As per the stats website FBRef, he ranks among the best players in the world in his position by assists and actions leading to shots. When played in a deeper ‘Jorginho’ role, his biggest asset — the ability to play a killer pass — gets severely limited.

Zakaria’s return from injury allows Potter to move Fernandez into a more advanced role. Mason Mount, who has struggled lately, seems the most likely candidate to be benched for the Switzerland man.

Here’s what the change would look like:

It’s clear that Fernandez is a versatile player and he can play in a deep role. Potter could theoretically experiment with playing him in a double pivot with Zakaria behind Mount, or even Felix in an attacking midfield position.

However, based on how Enzo was used at Benfica and Argentina, it looks like his best position is closer to the oppositions’s goal — and Zakaria’s recovery allows Potter to play the Argentine there.

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