It’s two days to go until Christmas Eve, and Chelsea have the opportunity to gift us a perfect present: three points at the Bridge against Leicester City, who are reportedly dealing with a growing crisis in the dressing room as results continue to go against them. But this fixture’s never easy and Sarri and the team will have to be spot on as on most weekends in the Premier League.
Kepa Arrizabalaga has played every league minute so far and that is not looking likely to change at the moment — and that’s a good thing!
Chelsea’s usual back four should return to action, even if half them have played 180 minutes this week already. While David Luiz and Marcos Alonso got the midweek off, César Azpilicueta and Antonio Rüdiger will have to dig deep to continue producing at a high level. We should have confidence in them being able to do so. More concerning is Alonso’s continuing poor form, though Sarri seems unmoved so far to switch things up there.
Jorginho and N’Golo Kanté slot back in after sitting out Chelsea’s midweek fixture and should be well rested for a tough battle in midfield. As Mateo Kovačić and Ruben Loftus-Cheek played the full 90 minutes against Bournemouth, it seems a real possibility that Ross Barkley will complete the trio this time.
After Maurizio Sarri mentioned in his press conference yesterday that he’d like to test Eden Hazard as a false nine against a more compact defense, it seems likely that the Chelsea talisman will once again start at centre forward with Pedro and Willian playing on either side of him. Willian barely made it past half-time on Wednesday, so substitutions could play a key role.
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Barkley, Jorginho, Kanté | Willian, Hazard, Pedro
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community’s preferred lineup supports Maurizio Sarri’s continuing false nine experiment as Giroud (32%) and Hudson-Odoi (28%) miss out on the front three, through just barely. Emerson (38%) continues to gain ground on Alonso, while Loftus-Cheek wins the midfield battle against Kovačić (39%) and Barkley (21%). While not in contention to start, Ethan Ampadu is starting to gain solid support with 16% of the votes after a good showing in midweek.
Arrizabalaga (98%) | Alonso (62%), David Luiz (89%), Rüdiger (94%), Azpilicueta (92%) | Loftus-Cheek (69%), Jorginho (92%), Kanté (93%) | Willian (40%), Hazard (97%), Pedro (84%)
My preferred lineup once again involves giving starts to both Emerson and Loftus-Cheek as the two have arguably been two of our best players in recent weeks. Otherwise, I’m in full agreement with the predicted eleven: Hazard as a false nine is currently our best option up top and the rest of the team more or less selects itself.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Kanté | Willian, Hazard, Pedro
COME ON YOU BLUES!