Chelsea have received the early Christmas present no football team ever wants to unwrap.
A player out injured for potentially the rest of the term. Happy Holidays!
The unfortunate person in question is Ben Chilwell.
Yesterday, reports confirmed that the defender had sustained damage to his anterior cruciate ligament against Juventus in mid-week.
Any mention of the ACL and professional athletes shudder.
They know how harmful such a wound can be, especially if surgery is required.
Sadly, for Chilwell, he is staring down the barrel of such a disappointing scenario.
It is scary how one’s life can go from cloud nine to the pits of despair in an instant.
Who comes in for Chilwell?
For Chelsea, they must pick themselves up off the ground immediately and refocus their minds on the upcoming fixtures.
First, a Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge with Manchester United.
Of course, Thomas Tuchel will have to do a bit of tinkering to his team due to Chilwell’s absence.
Questions continue to swirl over who is set to take over the left-wing back slot.
Could Tuchel go really off-piste and use Saul Niguez there?
Or Christian Pulisic, having already hinted at such a positional change for the American.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has featured in that role before, but his efforts are clearly best served further upfield.
Cesar Azpilicueta can quite easily switch flanks, although a right-footer on the left is always debatable.
Plus, the captain is far more defensive than Chilwell, which may damage Chelsea’s attacking potency.
There really is only one answer to this dilemma, however.
Marcos Alonso would be very hard done by not to walk straight back into the side.
After all, he remains the one natural replacement for his wounded colleague.
The 30-year-old has proven on countless occasions how efficient he can be at wing-back.
He was the reason Chilwell failed to make an appearance for Chelsea until the sixth game of the season.
At one stage of the campaign, Alonso was the Blues’ chief creator, ahead of his offensive co-workers.
The Spaniard also earned a Premier League Player of the Month vote for August, thanks to impressive performances against Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Chelsea managed without Chilwell then and they can almost certainly do it again with Alonso running the flanks.