After an excellent win against now-league leaders Liverpool and a scrappy one against second division Derby County, Chelsea host mid-table AFC Bournemouth in the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup. Chelsea already beat the Cherries 2-0 back in September in the league, and Eddie Howe’s men are in a bit of tailspin — losing 6 of their last 7 Premier League games — and no one expects them to win today either. Single-elimination cup games can however produce strange and unexpected results...
Willy Caballero seems to be our designated Cup goalkeeper, but yet another start for Kepa Arrizabalaga doesn’t seem impossible since we’re now in the quarterfinals.
Assistant manager Gianfranco Zola expects Gary Cahill to fight for his place, so he’s perhaps in line to start this one alongside usual partner in second-string crime, Andreas Christensen. With Alonso’s continuing poor form, we might just see Emerson get a start, while on the right we might as well makeit a full rotation and give Davide Zappacosta a start as well.
Chelsea are supposedly taking this game seriously, which should mean minutes for Jorginho and Kante, but perhaps we can make do with just Fabregas and Barkley, with Loftus-Cheek getting the nod as well.
Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata are expected to miss out due to fitness and injury issues, while Willian played the full 90 on Sunday unlike Pedro, who was withdrawn just after the hour-mark. Expecting Sarri to give Hudson-Odoi a chance may be a bit too bold, but the head coach might prefer to do so here instead of in the Premier League proper. After all, Bournemouth should need to rotate similarly as well.
Caballero | Emerson, Christensen, Cahill, Zappacosta | Barkley, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek | Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Pedro
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community’s preferred lineup unsurprisingly involves a fair amount of indecision as only two players score higher than 90%, one of them being Giroud who’s our only option up top. Ampadu is rewarded for his Vidi performance with a start (Rudiger at 38% and Cahill at 33% were close) while Zappacosta is preferred to Azpilicueta on the right. Kovačić, Jorginho, and Kanté are all rested while Hudson-Odoi and Pedro complete the lineup up front.
Arrizabalaga (60%) | Emerson (90%), Christensen (85%), Ampadu (43%), Zappacosta (64%) | Loftus-Cheek (89%), Fàbregas (80%), Barkley (65%) | Hudson-Odoi (79%), Giroud (90%), Pedro (61%)
Despite knowing that the chance of Ampadu and Hudson-Odoi both starting this tie is close to zero, I’d nevertheless love for the two academy players to be given an opportunity to impress. Resting key players such as Arrizabalaga, Jorginho and Rüdiger also makes a lot of sense as the game against Leicester City looms at the weekend. Otherwise, my lineup is the exact same as the eleven voted for by the community.
Caballero | Emerson, Ampadu, Christensen, Zappacosta | Barkley, Fàbregas, Loftus-Cheek | Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Willian
COME ON, YOU BLUES!