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Predicted Chelsea lineup against Burnley: Strong starting XI despite looming FA Cup semifinal

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Burnley vs. Chelsea, Premier League: Predicted lineup

Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Despite Saturday’s thrilling turnaround at St Mary's, Chelsea’s recent form leaves a lot to be desired — unlike Burnley’s five wins on the trot — and it remains to be seen whether Saturday’s win will lead to a reconcilable end to the season. Conte's decision to change things by actually utilizing on-time substitutes and a decisive formation change was key; consequently, calls for the coach to utilize something other than the 3-4-3 (or the 3-5-2 slight variation) have become louder. Whether Conte actually listens seems highly unlikely, however. (Ed.note: nor should he; no manager has gotten to the top of the game by listening to anyone other than himself in the end.)

Complicating matters is the all-important FA Cup semifinal in three days’ time, which presents an additional challenge in ensuring fitness levels for Sunday and motivation levels for tonight.

One change already confirmed is that Emerson will be given his full Premier League debut in place of the suspended Marcos Alonso. Whether Emerson will play on Sunday, too, is not something Conte was as confident in, but the January arrival from Roma will get his big chance to prove himself against Burnley.

Conte did say ahead of the Southampton game that he'd rotate more often in the remaining fixtures but I doubt that there will be too many additional changes. The goalkeeper and back three will most probably stay the same, Moses will come in for a disappointing Zappacosta, and Fabregas will retain his spot ahead of Bakayoko, though I'd personally prefer the latter to start.

The only area which might see a change other than left wing-back is our attack, specifically the starting striker. It simply has to be Giroud, with Morata an option in the second half. Giroud was just too good on Saturday and thoroughly deserves to start against a physical Burnley.

My predicted line-up is thus as follows:

Courtois | Rüdiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Emerson, Kante, Fabregas, Moses | Hazard, Giroud, Willian

The WAGNH community’s preferred line-up is almost the same, with the sole exception of Bakayoko starting in place of the out-of-form Fabregas (44%). I hope this proves correct; the younger midfielder could really use a good performance or two to head into next season on a more positive note. It is also worth noting that the vote was spread quite wide in terms of attacking options, with Hudson-Odoi, Barkley, and Pedro receiving 21%, 33% and 41%, respectively.

3-4-3 (50%):
Courtois (88%) | Rüdiger (86%), Christensen (83%), Azpilicueta (90%) | Emerson (89%), Kanté (93%), Bakayoko (56%), Moses (43%) | Hazard (71%), Giroud (76%), Willian (68%)