With Chelsea coming off of a grueling (especially emotionally) 90 minutes against Arsenal on Wednesday and facing the prospect of a midweek league match coming up in three days, Sunday’s FA Cup 4th round match against Newcastle represents a good (and needed) opportunity to rotate the squad that hasn’t had a break in as long as we can remember.
A few injuries are also forcing Antonio Conte’s hand, with Willian now joining Thibaut Courtois and Álvaro Morata on the list of unavailable players. Cesc Fàbregas is back, though it’s unclear if he’s ready to start.
Beyond just resting players such as Eden Hazard, Tiemoué Bakayoko, N’Golo Kanté, and Marcos Alonso, what will be interesting is how Conte utilizes Ross Barkley and whether any of the youngsters like Charly Musonda, Dujon Sterling, Kyle Scott, or perhaps even Callum Hudson-Odoi get the call. The Development Squad do have a match on Monday however.
If the two games against Norwich are any guide, we should be looking at an almost fully rotated squad. We might even see a start for backup-backup goalkeeper Eduardo!
Conte will want to win however, so probably will opt for experience over youth if push comes to shove.
Caballero | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Fabregas, Sterling | Pedro, Batshuayi, Barkley
The WAGNH community’s preference remains for the 3-4-3 as well, but, surprisingly, with an even smaller emphasis on youth than my prediction. While this was a very even vote, with no fewer than 14 players garnering at least 45%, other than Musonda’s 48%, the youngsters were not represented well at all (Sterling 19%; Hudson-Odoi 9%).
Caballero (97%) | Cahill (67%), David Luiz (63%), Azpilicueta (68%) | Alonso (67%), Drinkwater (66%), Kanté (60%), Zappacosta (66%) | Hazard (63%), Batshuayi (76%), Barkley (65%)