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Predicted Chelsea lineup against Watford: Rotation, youth, and a bit of sentimentality

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West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Chelsea have three games left this season, two mostly meaningless ones in the league (though winning both of them would get us the Premier League record of most wins in a season, 30, beating our own record of 29 from 04-05 and 05-06), and then a very much meaningful one in the FA Cup final. That match against Arsenal is two weeks away, which works out very nicely as far as squad rotation and fitness goes.

Having played (and partied) on Friday, this game on Monday can be used as a chance for rotation, a chance for the youths and the backups, and a chance for John Terry (and Asmir Begović) to start a Chelsea match one last time at Stamford Bridge. Next Sunday, on the final day of the league, we can go back to a largely first-choice lineup to keep them match-fit for Wembley the following weekend. This plan, or something very similar, should strike a good balance between caring, winning, and giving minutes to all those who have worked hard all season long but perhaps did not get as much game-time as they would’ve wanted. It’s a small consolation, but a consolation nonetheless.

With that in mind, we should essentially end up with a lineup similar to an early round cup game, with all the usual starters other than César Azpilicueta rotating out. Azpi’s in there to complete his personal journey of playing in every single match this season, including every single minute of our Premier League campaign so far — he’s the only Chelsea player to have done so, though Gary Cahill is only missing six minutes.

3-4-3:
Begović | Aké, Terry, Zouma | Kenedy, Chalobah, Fàbregas, Azpilicueta | Loftus-Cheek, Batshuayi, Willian

The second midfield position could see any one of Fàbregas, Matić, or Kanté, though with the latter only fit for the bench on Friday, it’s probably wise to take it easy and not rush him back. For the community, the biggest decision was at right wing-back, where Ola Aina just barely edged out César Azpilicueta (42%).

3-4-3 (84%):
Begović (64%) | Aké (94%), Terry (82%), Zouma (75%) | Kenedy (47%), Chalobah (83%), Fàbregas (59%), Aina (46%) | Loftus-Cheek (69%), Batshuayi (91%), Willian (84%)