Stuck on a Friday night in front of a run of games that includes Barcelona twice and each of the two Manchesters once, it would be very easy to overlook this less glamorous Hull City tie at Stamford Bridge, especially as it comes in a lower priority competition. Still, it should be a good chance to rotate the squad and to continue regaining confidence after the recent poor run.
Antonio Conte, who has stuck to his rotation policy for all Cup matches outside of the League Cup semifinals, has already confirmed starts for Álvaro Morata and Emerson Palmieri and has strongly hinted at Ethan Ampadu being involved from the off as well. Whether that’s in central defense or in central midfield remains to be seen, though with David Luiz and Tiemoué Bakayoko both injured and Andreas Christensen nursing a dodgy hamstring, we could really use one Ampadu in both.
Assuming that we also want to save the likes of N’Golo Kanté, Eden Hazard, and César Azpilicueta for the Barcelona match on Tuesday — we do have three full days of rest between the two games, but a full week of rest is even better! — the rest of the lineup is a question of how much can Conte trust the youth like Callum Hudson-Odoi and perhaps even Trevoh Chalobah (who can also play both defense and midfield) and who draws the short-stick of possibly having to play both this match and the Barcelona match.
My guess is that we’ll bank on Hull City being terrible to get away with some risky choices in either defense or midfield.
Caballero | Rüdiger, Cahill, Azpilicueta | Emerson, Drinkwater, Ampadu, Zappacosta | Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Willian
The 3-4-3 is also preferred by the WAGNH community, but the bulk of the voting was done before we learned that David Luiz would miss out, so his 70% cannot play. Next highest vote-getter in defense was Azpilicueta.
Caballero (80%) | Rüdiger (56%), Cahill (76%), Azpilicueta (32%) | Emerson (88%), Drinkwater (84%), Ampadu (78%), Zappacosta (70%) | Hudson-Odoi (65%), Giroud (66), Willian (70%)