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Predicted Chelsea lineup against Watford: Does Conte already have an established first-choice eleven?

Michael Regan/Getty Images

A question that tends to pop up in the summertime, when the weather (and spirits) are high, is if any given manager has established his first-choice eleven already, especially if he's new at the club.  You hear phrases like "he still does not know his best eleven" and "he's still searching for best combinations" etc.  Now whether any of that is as important of a factor as it's made out to be could be up for debate -- especially in today's world of congested schedules and giant squads -- but it should be noted that the last two Premier League champions both were built around a very solid core of eleven players.

Two years ago, we could close our eyes and name Jose Mourinho's starting eleven with almost unerring accuracy week in and week out.  Barring injuries, the back four was Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, and Ivanovic, shielded by a double pivot of Matic and Fabregas, with the trio of Hazard, Oscar, and Willian supporting Diego Costa up top.  Courtois was in goal, and the likes of Schurrle and Ramires and Mikel provided options off the bench.  The situation, without naming names, was even more extreme last season at Leicester City, who set a Premier League record for fewest lineup changes in the season -- a feat most ironic given that their manager was once known as the Tinkerman.

In any case, that's a long-winded introduction to the situation at Chelsea currently, which appears to have an already settled starting eleven after just a few weeks of preseason and one league game.  Sorry, Cesc Fabregas.

Courtois | Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic | Kante | Hazard, Matic, Oscar, Willian | Costa

The WAGNH community seems to agree, though their choice between Oscar and Fabregas is surprisingly close (56% vs. 50%).  Given that this is an away match, I think there's very little chance that Oscar (or Matic) is sat down in favor of the more possession-oriented Cesc, even if roughly half of all respondents would like to see the Spaniard start.

Courtois | Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic | Kante | Hazard, Matic, Oscar/Fabregas, Willian | Costa

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