It’s perhaps fair to say that I’m being highly optimistic or idealistic here in predicting that Antonio Conte will rotate every single position in the starting lineup, especially since this match takes place with a full week of rest heading and a full week of rest to follow.
That said, we do have a full second team at our disposal, so why not use them? Conte has rotated almost all players in both of his previous two FA Cup matches and while ostensibly this is the hardest test we’re facing in the competition (an away match after two home games), I’m not sure it warrants anywhere near a first-choice line-up. Nor should it, considering it’s basically the only chance for backups and the youth to play significant minutes. They might be able to do so again at the end of the season, should Chelsea wrap up the title early, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
So, a full rotation. Chelsea have 24 first-team players, with a proper backup at each position, plus an extra goalkeeper (Eduardo, who might never play) and an extra position player.
Since everyone other than David Luiz is fit to play, a line-up consisting purely of backups would look something like this:
Begović | Aké, Terry, Zouma | Kenedy, Chalobah, Fàbregas, Aina | Loftus-Cheek, Batshuayi,
Since Willian plays quite a bit already despite not being a starter, this would be a perfect time for Charly Musonda’s debut. Even if the rest of the squad don’t rotate as much, playing Musonda would be as important as giving Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, Ake, Zouma, and Batshuayi minutes.
The community’s preference is running along similar lines though Musonda only garnered a disappointing 33% of the vote. The closest battle was in fact at right wing-back, where Aina won by 6% over Azpilicueta.
Begović (88%) | Aké (93%), Terry (75%), Zouma (97%) | Kenedy (58%), Chalobah (86%), Fàbregas (92%), Aina (47%) | Loftus-Cheek (76%), Batshuayi (91%), Willian (67%)