Diego Costa had been out since our back-to-back eliminations from two competitions in the space of a few days, the 2-0 defeat at Everton and the 2-1 loss at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. PSG themselves have since been eliminated, by none other than the team visiting Stamford Bridge tomorrow (Saturday), Manchester City. But Costa is now back, refreshed, and raring to go.
"Normally when a player is out for that long a period they have a tendency to take a break, but he didn't. He has been working very hard, including individually when we were on the road. He was here at Cobham working on his own with the staff. He is very eager to play."
-Guus Hiddink; source: Chelsea FC
Joining Costa in the starting lineup should be two fellow key members of last year's title-winning squad, Gary Cahill and Nemanja Matić. Both had missed some time with injuries recently, though the latter has also remained firmly on the woeful side of things even as others in the squad have slowly recovered some of their former skills and abilities. Matić had announced his return onto the Chelsea scene with a tremendous performance against City two years ago. Maybe that past deed will echo in the present this weekend.
Other spots in the lineup pick themselves. While Hiddink has experimented with various youth in recent weeks, thanks in (large?) part to our rather lengthy injury list, my feeling is that he will turn back to the more experienced players for this massive clash — massive-sounding, in any case, if not quite massive in actual significance.
Courtois | Baba, Ivanović, Cahill, Azpilicueta | Matić, Mikel | Pedro, Fàbregas, Willian | Costa
The assumptions for the community voting were that Cahill, Willian, and Matić were injury doubts. Other than those three players, who apparently are back available for selection, the prediction and the preference are mostly in agreement.
Courtois | Baba, Ivanović, Miazga, Azpilicueta | Fàbregas, Mikel | Kenedy, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro | Costa