Guus Hiddink is set to address the media in a few hours, so this could all look pretty silly if he reveals some information contrary to my assumptions about injuries and the like. Then again, last weekend's lineup shenanigans have thrown everything up into the air — how they might land is anyone's guess at this point. Overall, my guess is that a bit more normal service will be resumed this Saturday.
Up front, with Diego Costa still suspended and Loïc Rémy once again injured, the options are Bertrand Traoré, Alexandre Pato, and Radamel Falcao. While it may be tempting to start Pato and cash-in on the Duck fever that's raging around SW6, I hope the youngster Traoré gets his shot. Even if we do end up signing Pato on a permanent basis at the end of his loan (a strikeforce of Costa, Traoré, Pato next season isn't the worst thing in the world), playing Traoré is the smart move in the long-term. And perhaps even the short-term.
Behind them, with Eden Hazard either still injured or (probably) just working his way back to match fitness, the attacking band should feature both Pedro and Willian, the former coming off a brace and the latter finally getting a long overdue rest last weekend. The third spot might go to a youngster, with either Kenedy or Ruben Loftus-Cheek perhaps set for another start. My money's on the big kid.
The pivot should feature two of Mikel, Matic, and Cesc Fàbregas. Former football player Nemanja Matic might have the greatest chance of starting of the three, just as a bit of rotation, with perhaps Cesc getting a breather. (UPDATE: With Matic officially ruled out of the game for whatever reason, this will most likely be the usual first-choice Mikel-Cesc pairing.)
In defense, it will all depend on whether John Terry or Gary Cahill are ready to go. Cahill was back in training on Thursday, but with just a couple days prep, this game might come a bit too soon for him. There's been no news on the Captain but it wouldn't surprise me if his Achilles injury has lingered a bit. Which basically leaves the same back four as against Aston Villa, although academy right back Fankaty Dabo was issued with a squad number (#39) while fellow talented youngster Jake Clarke-Salter (#37) did fill in at left back towards the end of last weekend's match.
(For the record, to complete the series, the #38 was assigned to flashy-skills Kasey Palmer. I don't think these really mean much, but the JCS appearance was a complete surprise as well, so you never know...)
Finally in goal, it's Thibaut Courtois. Sorry, Asmir.
Courtois | Baba, Ivanović, Miazga, Azpilicueta | Mikel,
Matić Fàbregas | Pedro, Loftus-Cheek, Willian | Traoré
The WAGNH community would prefer a much more attacking midfield and a slightly different forward line.
Courtois | Baba, Ivanović, Miazga, Azpilicueta | Fàbregas, Loftus-Cheek | Kenedy, Willian, Pedro | Pato