clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Predicted Chelsea lineup against West Ham United: Too many questions

New, comments
Clive Rose/Getty Images

There are lots of questions facing Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho as far as squad selection's concerned, but I can't quite decide if the problem is that there are too many answers or not enough.

I suppose they're both symptomatic of one thing: nobody knows how much to trust anybody.  Chelsea's last two outings, since the October international break have been marked improvements on what's come before.  Two clean sheets, three easy points at home against Villa and one, perhaps unlucky away point against Dynamo Kiev.  Last weekend saw Mourinho go for more of an "effort"/"athlete" team; midweek saw most of the usual starters restored.  Both approaches worked.  So which one do we trust?

Given the unchanged injury list, the decent amount of rest both before and after this match (with just a League Cup tie to follow midweek), and the improving, cohesive play, the temptation is almost to play the same exact XI as against Dynamo.  But given that West Ham will pose a slightly different threat, I think some changes will have to be made, first and foremost, at the back.

The major assumption in all this is that West Ham will look to concede possession, while Chelsea will look to press this advantage with a high line.  The hosts will look to counter with speed down the flanks and through the middle.  We will need to play with our fastest defenders, essentially, which does leave me with a bold call of dropping Terry, again, and starting Baba Rahman.  The idea is that Baba can hang with Lanzini (fingers crossed), while Azpilicueta (despite his re-growing pains at right back) can shadow Dimitri Payet.  The trade-off is that we're losing Terry's leadership and organizational skills.

The rest of the team will be focused on breaking down the Hammers' stout defense, utilizing patient possession to create chances and thus bringing back last season's overwhelming paradigm.  This mean that Fabregas drops deep to control the midfield (instead of the hustle and bustle of Ramires), while Oscar (remember Oscar?) presses and harasses alongside Willian.  Matic shields the back line and mops up, Hazard creates, Costa finishes.

4-2-3-1:
Begovic | Baba, Cahill, Zouma, Azpilicueta | Matic, Fabregas | Hazard, Oscar, Willian | Costa

---

The community's preferred choice hinges on a toss-up between Baba and Fabregas, currently separated by just two votes, with the left back leading.  Should Fabregas win out, we're looking at the same exact lineup as against Dynamo Kiev.

4-2-3-1:
Begovic | Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Zouma | Matic, Ramires | Hazard, Fabregas, Willian | Costa