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Predicted Chelsea lineup against Manchester City: In search of FA Cup heroes

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the biggest question facing Chelsea was a defensive one, what to do in the absence of John Terry?  Fortunately, given JT's continuing injury-enforced absence, our makeshift back four against PSG answered that question, more or less adequately enough, with the performances of the two full-backs especially impressing many observers.

Closer inspection might reveal some issues in positioning, organization, and teamwork, but perhaps some of those could be forgiven considering that it was the first time that combination of players started a game.  And while Hiddink urged against going overboard on the Baba praise, I'd presume he will keep faith in the young left back, as well as the rest of the defenders from Tuesday night for Sunday's match as well.

"He is a gifted player, he's a technical player. He's good going forward, he is very calm when he is playing on the ball. He has to focus also on his backtracking when he has to defend. He is focusing on making an improvement in that area, which is important for this very competitive league."

-Guus Hiddink; source: West London Sport

With that settled, the biggest question facing Chelsea now for the FA Cup clash against Manchester City is, once again, what to do with Eden Hazard?  As the one and only player deemed bad enough to be substituted on Tuesday, my guess is that Hiddink will leave him on the bench and play one of either Oscar and Pedro in his stead.  Oscar might get the nod just based on his fitness; Pedro (and Willian as well) looked absolutely gassed as the match wore on midweek.  Why Hiddink refused to throw a few more fresh legs into the fray is mystery, especially with both Remy and Kenedy ready and available on the bench.

The one other change I think we will make from Tuesday night is the reintroduction of Nemanja Matic into the midfield, probably alongside Mikel, with Fabregas once again pushing forward into the no.10 role.  Basically, I expect Hiddink to revert to his big-game lineup, which we saw against Manchester United and Arsenal and a few others.

Courtois | Baba, Ivanovic, Cahill, Azpilicueta | Matic, Mikel | Oscar, Fabregas, Willian | Costa

There was very little to separate Pedro, Hazard, and Oscar in the community voting, but the gist of the vote remains that a more attacking lineup would be preferred.  This is basically the same lineup as against PSG, but with Matic instead of Mikel in the middle.

Courtois | Baba, Ivanovic, Cahill, Azpilicueta | Matic, Fabregas | Pedro, Willian, Hazard | Costa

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