Chelsea have established a decent rhythm in the Premier League, with just 1 loss in the last 12 games pushing the Blues to within one point of second place. During this run, despite (or precisely because of) a very busy fixture list, Chelsea have managed to find multiple solutions both in terms of starting lineups and in-match adjustments.
“We must go game by game and it’s normal when you play every few days to make rotation and give some rest to those who have been playing every game. At the same time, all my players deserve credit, I trust in all of my players and it doesn’t matter if there are changes to the starting 11.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
The big decision for the former is whether to start in last season’s all-conquering 3-4-3 or the slightly more restrained 3-5-2. But with Arsenal coming up on Wednesday, which presumably calls for the full-strength 3-5-2, Conte could well deem Stoke’s visit a good opportunity to rest and rotate a few players (just as the fixture after Arsenal, Norwich City in the FA Cup will provide a similar opportunity). While Chelsea cannot afford to drop too many points in the league, this seems like a reasonable risk to take.
Assuming Christensen is fit, that Kante and Azpilicueta and Alonso are made from unobtainium, and that hat-trick hero Morata is capable of starting three games in eight days, we could see the following variation from Chelsea.
Courtois | Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Drinkwater, Kante, Zappacosta | Pedro, Morata, Willian
The WAGNH community’s preference is also for the 3-4-3 (albeit just barely) though with what looks very much like a near first-choice selection for the 3-5-2.
Courtois (99%) | Rudiger (77%), Christensen (68%), Azpilicueta (98%) | Alonso (91%), Drinkwater (47%), Kante (94%), Moses (79%) | Hazard (95%), Morata (97%), Fabregas (68%)