Chelsea are facing a must-win situation against Watford in Saturday’s early-kickoff, with back-to-back losses in the league and a credible, but frustrating draw in the Champions League piling on the extra pressure. Add in injuries, rumors of discord, and all the other usual narratives and shenanigans, and things are suddenly looking a lot less promising than just a month ago. Nothing would help set minds at ease more than a win, though first we have to figure out who plays in midfield.
With the League Cup game against Everton on Wednesday providing the perfect opportunity to rotate and rest, Saturday’s match should see as strong of a lineup as possible once again. It should also see a return to the more proactive 3-4-3 — hopefully with Pedro, who’s less out of form than Willian— rather than the defensive 3-5-2, which has not worked as well as it did earlier in the season. Watford may be having a good season, but Chelsea need to go back to playing on the front foot, and the 3-4-3 is the ideal way to do it (even if some of our usual passing patterns are getting disrupted with more and more regularity).
The big question is who plays next to the only confirmed-fit midfielder, Cesc Fabregas. If Bakayoko passes his late fitness test, he probably plays. If David Luiz passes his late fitness, he probably plays as well. Given that they were both back in training, at least to some degree, on Friday, I’m going to guess that they will be ready to play.
If not, perhaps Andreas Christensen can step into either central defence or defensive midfield.
Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Zappacosta | Hazard, Morata, Pedro
The WAGNH community's preferred lineup is strongly in favor of a return to 3-4-3 as well, but with a new-look back three and Cahill barely edging out Bakayoko for a starting spot (56% vs. 54%).
Courtois (98%) | Rudiger (85%), Cahill (56%), Azpilicueta (81%) | Alonso (86%), Fabregas (88%), Christensen (89%), Zappacosta (83%) | Hazard (99%), Morata (99%), Pedro (75%)