It's a well-timed FA Cup break for Chelsea, giving a chance for the squad to digest the record-denying loss to Spurs on Wednesday night, as well as giving a chance to some of the less-often featured members of the squad to step into a starring role.
To wit, in his press conference on Friday, Antonio Conte already confirmed starts for Kurt Zouma and Michy Batshuayi.
"Zouma will start, he is ready to start. He deserves to start. It's a good opportunity to show me he is in good form and to give me another opportunity when I go to choose the starting XI."
"His injury was very bad. I knew this. I talked with my club about this injury, and for this reason we knew Kurt needed more time to recover. Now he is in good shape and he is ready to play and to restart his career."
It's been eleven months since Zouma last played a competitive match for Chelsea; it will be fantastic to see him back in action.
Joining him will be Michy Batshuayi, who last started in late October in the League Cup loss to West Ham. This will be an important opportunity for Michy to show how far he's come in terms of adapting to Conte's system.
"I have a good opportunity in this game to see Michy from the start, and this is important. Diego is doing very well, he is playing a lot, and I didn't take a final decision because there is also tomorrow's training, but for Michy it could be a good opportunity to show me his promise."
"I repeat: it's not easy to arrive in England in this league and adapt very well, above all if you are striker and a young player, because this league is very physical, but he is working a lot. He is improving and going into our idea of football. On Sunday for him and for other players it will be a good opportunity to show me he deserves to play more in the future."
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Who might these other players be?
Looking back to the League Cup days, we used to line up a 4-2-4 but then kept the 3-4-3 for the West Ham game, starting a front three of Oscar, Batshuayi, and Willian. Oscar's now gone, but Willian probably will start since he was only on the bench on Wednesday. Same goes for Cesc Fabregas and Nathaniel Chalobah in midfield, both of whom deserve more minutes.
Despite the squad's reduced numbers (Mikel's gone now, too), Solanke and Tomori both starting for the U23s on Friday, and assuming that neither Kenedy nor Musonda will play (though their inclusion could be a bold move from the boss and it would rule those two out from going on loan), we still have plenty of options to shuffle the squad players around.
Working backwards, let's assume that Hazard, Costa, Kante, Moses, and Alonso all will be rested. And let's throw Pedro in there, too, just because he annoyed me in the last game and Azpilicueta because his legs might fall off otherwise. This gives us limited options up top, and I could see us using maybe a 3-5-2 instead of the 3-4-3 to get more of our backups in there. This would mean Willian at right wing-back, which is a gamble and not something we've seen before. Or maybe we could use a front three of Batshuayi, Loftus-Cheek, and Willian?
In defense, Zouma will presumably slot in for Azpilicueta or Cahill, but David Luiz and his wrapped knee need a rest, so Cahill probably would take over as the centermost center back. It's unclear if Terry's available, but I'm not sure that matters. Throw that all in a blender, and out pops a guess for Sunday's starting lineup.
Begovic | Zouma, Cahill, Ivanovic | Aina, Matic, Chalobah, Fabregas, Willian | Batshuayi, Loftus-Cheek
I'm not entirely comfortable with that, but it is just Peterborough. Who of course have nothing to lose, but we do have to play the backups at some point.
As far as the community's preference, given the option to play both Kenedy and Musonda, the choices become a bit more straightforward.
Begovic (90%) | Zouma (96%), Terry (73%), Ivanovic (73%) | Kenedy (61%), Chalobah (93%), Fabregas (81%), Aina (85%) | Musonda (43%), Batshuayi (96%), Willian (68%)