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Predicted Chelsea lineup against AFC Bournemouth: Coping without Costa, Kanté

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Watford v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Antonio Conte has shown throughout the season that he’s keen to keep the side settled and unchanged as much as results, form, fitness and injuries allow, but he will be forced into making at least two massive changes for Monday’s game against Bournemouth with both Diego Costa and N’Golo Kanté suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

Costa and Kanté have started every single Premier League match so far this season, with Kanté playing every minute and Costa missing a grand total of 29 in the 17 games. They’ve featured regularly even in the team’s brief EFL Cup run. In short, they’ve been crucial to Chelsea’s success.

Costa’s replacement should be the young Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi, who’s been waiting patiently for his chance behind the Premier League’s best striker. Chelsea paid big money for the 23-year-old in the summer and will be keen to see him perform on the big stage. He had made effective cameos off the bench earlier this season, but failed to impress in his last start, against West Ham as Chelsea were eliminated from the EFL Cup. There’s a small chance that Conte goes without a recognized center forward or plays Hazard or Pedro there instead, but I think we’ll choose the less complicated option.

Kanté’s replacement is perhaps a bit less straightforward. His skill-set is unique in the squad, with none of Matić, Mikel, or Chalobah likely to be able to reproduce the Frenchman’s impact. Should Conte decide to keep the formation unchanged (likely), we could be seeing a return of the Matić-Fàbregas pairing. Or Conte could decide to add another midfielder (Chalobah!) and play Batshuayi in a more classic two-man striker partnership with, say, Eden Hazard. But again, I think we’ll choose the less complicated option and reserve the 3-5-2-ish look for an in-game change, if needed.

The rest of the team picks itself.

3-4-3:
Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Matić, Fàbregas, Moses | Hazard, Batshuayi, Willian

The community’s preference differs only in the identity of the right inside forward, though I think Willian getting the start last weekend was significant in that regard.

3-4-3:
Courtois (99%) | Cahill (90%), David Luiz (99%), Azpilicueta (99%) | Alonso (98%), Matić (96%), Fàbregas (89%), Moses (98%) | Hazard (99%+), Batshuayi (94%), Pedro (61%)