Chelsea visit fierce London rivals Tottenham at Wembley today when the Premier League finally returns after a fortnight of anxious waiting. With merely a single point separating the two sides, a slip up could prove very costly in the long-term and the Blues will have to be on top of their game if they want to take all three points back to Stamford Bridge.
Kepa is naturally the only option to start against Spurs and he will look to continue his fine run of form, boosted by a start he received over David De Gea for the Spanish national team last week.
Chelsea’s back four of Marcos Alonso, Antonio Rüdiger, David Luiz and César Azpilicueta has been unchanged in the Premier League this season and it’s highly unlikely that this will change anytime soon. Maurizio Sarri trusts his experienced quartet and Andreas Christensen and Co. will have to put in a massive amount of work to convince the head coach otherwise.
As usual, who starts as the third midfielder will be one of the tougher choices for Maurizio Sarri. Jorginho and N’Golo Kanté will naturally start but it’s not clear whether Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovačić are ahead in the pecking order at the moment. My guess is that Kovačić’s tenacity and ball-security will give him the nod, barring any lingering fitness issues.
It’s a similar conundrum at the top of Chelsea’s formation, though Álvaro Morata will probably continue to spearhead the lately misfiring attack. On the wings, Eden Hazard is an automatic choice — and hopefully his trim specifically for this game will give him an extra boost — and will likely be accompanied by Willian on the opposite side. Sarri has been favoring him over Pedro recently.
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, Rüdiger, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Kovačić, Jorginho, Kanté | Hazard, Morata, Willian
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community’s preferred lineup contains few, if any, surprises. Sarri’s favoured back four continues to also be the fans’ choice, with Christensen (11%) the only one putting up a fight. In midfield, Ross Barkley received quite a few more votes than Ruben Loftus-Cheek (11%) and Mateo Kovačić (33%), though the latter initially being a doubt for the game may have contributed to this result. Up front, Pedro narrowly beats Willian (44%) while Olivier Giroud (24%) stood little chance against Morata.
Arrizabalaga (98%) | Alonso (97%), Rüdiger (98%), David Luiz (89%), Azpilicueta (97%) | Barkley (56%), Jorginho (97%), Kanté (98%) | Hazard (99%), Morata (72%), Pedro (54%)
My preferred lineup is more or less the same as the predicted one, with the sole exception of picking Pedro ahead of Willian. Pedro’s directness and willingness to put in the dirty work, as well as his ability to create with his left foot when cutting inside, will prove to be vital against Spurs.
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, Rüdiger, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Kovačić, Jorginho, Kanté | Hazard, Morata, Pedro
COME ON, YOU BLUES!