There are doubts over Harry Kane’s availability after the England talisman was struck down with illness towards the end of the week, whilst the likes of Cristian Romero, Oliver Skipp and Sergio Reguilon are all still on the treatment table.
Antonio Conte will have plenty to ponder heading into kickoff, knowing that a draw will seal a place in the top four – something that seemed impossible to achieve when he took over from Nuno Santo in November.
As such, the Italian head coach must still name his strongest lineup to ensure they go out with a bang and with that in mind, Emerson Royal’s place is surely in question as the Brazilian has struggled for consistency all season.
After signing from FC Barcelona in a £26m deal in the summer, the 23-year-old has shown flashes of his potential, especially in recent outings – three straight WhoScored ratings of 7.05 or better certainly suggest that to be the case.
However, he has struggled to maintain that to a consistent level and in part, that could be down to injury. He was withdrawn early as a precaution against the Clarets, so we may well see that level of form drop below the current trend.
As an attacking wing-back, he has failed to deliver in the final third, managing only one goal, one assist and 0.9 key passes per game across 30 appearances in the Premier League, via WhoScored.
Emerson had been so poor that Conte was desperate to bolster his squad with a new left wing-back, targeting Adama Traore before he opted for the aforementioned LaLiga giants.
Earlier in the season, former Lilywhites defender Jonathan Woodgate dubbed the Brazilian’s defending as “horrendous“, whilst fans have often slammed him as being a “liability,” so you can’t just shake that off after a couple of decent performances.
Valued at £34m by CIES Football Observatory, who assess the transfer value of professional footballers on a scientific basis, it could be wise for Conte to axe him for such a crucial encounter.
A ruthless decision perhaps but ensuring they do not concede will go a long way in securing the solitary point they need for a place in Europe’s elite competition in 2022/23.
AND in other news, Alasdair Gold reveals huge injury boost ahead of Norwich…