Teenage starlet, Dom Solanke, could make his Chelsea debut this Sunday at the Emirates. With Diego Costa and Loïc Rémy doubtful for the clash, and Didier Drogba caring for an ankle injury, Solanke would be Mourinho’s next option.
Solanke scored 19 goals for Chelsea’s youth squad this season, and was also named England’s Young Player of the Year. Solanke has been in the Chelsea system since 2004 (first playing for the Chelsea under-8’s), and is sure to be drooling for a first-team opportunity. Solanke certainly has the talent to play in the Chelsea first team in the future; the only question is if he is ready for Arsenal.
Didier Drogba is available for Sunday, according to Mourinho, but he sat Solanke out of the U-21 game yesterday to keep him fresh in case he was needed against Arsenal. Mourinho has called Solanke and other teenage striker, Izzy Brown, up to the first team squad for training this year. Solanke was also an unused substitute against Manchester United, showing Mourinho’s belief in his ability.
Will we finally see a home-grown teenager make his way into the first-team this weekend? Probably not. Didier Drogba will surely get the start, and Solanke will certainly be on the bench, and possibly get to come on as a substitute if anything were to happen to Didier.
Solanke was actually recently pulled up to train with the first-team English side last month, giving him more experience against world-class defenders. Solanke is the popular choice over Didier Drogba, especially after Drogba’s sub-par performance last weekend against Manchester United. Drogba committed three fouls, resulting in a yellow card, only a 48% pass completion percentage, and took only two shots, which were both off –target. Didier is not the same striker he was five years ago, and Chelsea should look to replace him either through the transfer market or from promoting youth stars. Dom Solanke certainly faces a tough opposition in replacing Drogba, with Chelsea being linked to other forwards, Mauro Icardi, Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala, and the imminent signing of Brazilian sensation Nathan. Not to mention Patrick Bamford, who is on loan at Middlesbrough, has won the Championship Player of the Year, leading Boro to promotion into the Premier League next season.