Chelsea face lower league opposition on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge in the third round of the League Cup, and that should be as good of an opportunity as any for Antonio Conte to utilize his squad to the fullest and give a run out to all those who have yet to play (or play much) this season.
That should mean minutes for veteran backup goalkeeper Willy Caballero, a long-awaited start for Eden Hazard, as well as for youngsters Charly Musonda Jr and Kenedy. In his pre-match press conference, Conte essentially confirmed all those moves (save for Caballero), and depending on just how bold he wants to get, he could even give minutes to Kyle Scott, Jake Clarke-Salter, Dujon Sterling, and Ethan Ampadu. Knowing Conte, he probably won’t go all out like that — then again, Forest are only a division behind, so taking them completely for granted is not something that’s advisable.
With youth and obvious rotations accounting for over half the team already, Conte’s likely to field a few of the usual starters in midfield and in defence.
Caballero | Cahill, Christensen, Rudiger | Kenedy, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Zappacosta | Hazard, Batshuayi, Musonda Jr
Drinkwater’s injury means that both Bakayoko and Fabregas have to play while Kante takes a rest. With David Luiz unavailable, utilizing Clarke-Salter would make sense (either on left or right of Christensen), but the youngster may not be in the trusted column just yet. Pedro’s also hurt, but he was unlikely to start anyway.
The WAGNH community’s preference matches our projections. The next three highest vote-getters were JCS (28%), Scott (27%), and Kante (25%).
Caballero (86%) | Cahill (52%), Christensen (93%), Rudiger (89%) | Kenedy (80%), Fabregas (54%), Bakayoko (92%), Zappacosta (96%) | Hazard (88%), Batshuayi (93%), Musonda Jr (94%)