In a few hours, as is customary, Guus Hiddink will enter the Chelsea media room, sit down behind the table, and address the assembled journalists. He will likely reveal a few bits of information regarding player availabilities and injuries. We could wait and predict the lineup then. Or we could just do it now. We could be more wrong in the latter case, so let's do it now.
The biggest, boldest prediction, if I dare say, is that Eden Hazard will be back in the starting lineup after missing well over a month with a recurrence of his hip injury. He's been training all week, where he's apparently looked very lively and full of intent and all such good things. And since he's no doubt hoping to make an impact at Euro 2016 with Belgium, he will need to regain some match fitness in the final five games for Chelsea. So it certainly behooves him to get out there. And who knows, maybe he'll even be the old real Hazard, not this fake new one.
Beyond this, I'm not quite sure we know what to expect from Hiddink. Other than John Terry and the two longer-term absentees in Kurt Zouma and Loïc Rémy, the squad should be fully healthy. Thibaut Courtois is of course suspended (so in comes Asmir Begović), but there are options galore for other positions, including three additional Academy kids who have been called (back) up to first-team training: Kasey Palmer, Ola Aina, and Fankaty Dabo. Could we see perhaps one of them join the rest of the usual first-team lot in the matchday squad?
The one thing I'm hoping, wishing, praying for is that Ruben Loftus-Cheek continues to start. And while our last two remaining home matches are certainly as tough as it gets for this season (against Spurs and Leicester, the top two teams in the Premier League table), our away matches should provide opportunities for bit more youthful, experimental setups. This game is certainly one of those (as is Sunderland away in two weeks), so let's see some of that action, boss.
Alas, I'm jaded enough to think that it'll probably be the same old, same old, right? The starting lineup last week was lovingly atrocious; we go again!
Begović | Baba, Ivanović, Cahill, Azpilicueta | Mikel, Fàbregas | Hazard, Loftus-Cheek, Willian | Costa
The community voting reflects our lineup preference, our hopes and desires of a better future and a more exciting present. No, wait, it's (almost) the same thing!? Whaaaaaa?
Begović | Baba, Ivanović, Cahill, Azpilicueta | Matić, Fàbregas | Hazard, Loftus-Cheek, Willian | Costa