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Predicted Chelsea lineup against Sunderland: The Boldness of Steve Holland

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho's gone.  In his place, there's only uncertainty.  Assistant manager Steve Holland and former assistant (now loan liaison officer) Eddie Newton will tag-team the managerial responsibilities for this weekend's match, but not including the customary pre-match press conference.  That was canceled by Chelsea, and hopefully with the Premier League's (who mandate these things) understanding.

With no official word to go on -- Falcao is presumably still injured, but what's the status of Eden Hazard's hip? -- and without knowing anything at all about Holland's and Newton's selection preferences, there's quite literally nothing to go on as far as starting lineup predictions go.  Does Holland continue Mourinho's selection policies?  He's supposedly "stood up" to the manager on unnamed issues before; could lineups be one of those issues?

Mourinho kept the same exact starting eleven from Porto (2-0 win) to Leicester (2-1 loss).  Do we gamble that the good versions of those players show up on Saturday?  We still need the big names to perform and keep the club above the relegation zone.  Do we gamble on the youth and the backups?  Holland & Newton obviously have nothing to lose -- they will be out as caretakers as soon as the new interim manager is appointed -- does that embolden them to try different things?  Mourinho was still in charge for Thursday's training and that leaves just about no time for any drastic changes even if the assistants would want to make them.

Still, with Newton heavily involved in youth and loan development, we could perhaps see an increased role for a few under-utilized players.  Ruben Loftus-Cheek is an obvious candidate as is Bertrand Traore, whom Newton tracked closely while on loan at Vitesse last season.

Perhaps calling this a "predicted lineup" is a misnomer.  Let's call it the lineup I would like to see.  I'm assuming Hazard won't be fit enough to start.  (If he is, drop Kenedy.)

Courtois | Baba, Cahill, Zouma, Ivanovic | Matic, Loftus-Cheek | Kenedy, Willian, Traore | Remy


The community seems to be thinking along similar lines, but with Azpilicueta retaining his place despite his issues last game against Mahrez and young Kenedy being preferred to young Traore.

Courtois | Baba, Cahill, Zouma, Azpilicueta | Matic, Loftus-Cheek | Kenedy, Hazard, Willian | Remy

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