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Chelsea’s head coach, Mauricio Pochettino, is confronted with a tactical puzzle as the team faces Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday, grappling with significant absences in both right-back and left-back positions.

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Malo Gusto, who has been a versatile option covering for Reece James, is still on the sidelines, undergoing rehabilitation after a recent injury setback. Despite being back in training, Gusto’s involvement in the upcoming match appears doubtful, leaving a void in the defensive lineup.

Compounding the issue, regular left-back Marc Cucurella is unavailable due to suspension, having accumulated five yellow cards in just seven Premier League appearances this season. Ben Chilwell’s prolonged absence due to a hamstring injury further limits the options.

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In previous situations with no specialist right-back, Pochettino deployed left-back Cucurella on the right flank. However, this approach is not viable against Brighton. This circumstance prompts speculation that Pochettino may consider Ian Maatsen for his first Premier League start or Levi Colwill as alternatives. The absence of a dedicated right-back raises the prospect of Axel Disasi, who previously played in that role against Brentford in October, being deployed in an unconventional backline featuring four center-backs.

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