Well, it's the last game of the Premier League season and there's a 2% chance of reaching a Champions League spot. Bugger.
The big question is whether Conte will once more resort to rotating and concentrating on the FA Cup final or whether he fields a full strength side and we all hope for a miracle to happen up north. Personally, I hope the latter will be the case as it wouldn't be the first time for the unexpected to happen, including Liverpool slipping up; thus, Conte to put out a strong side, it is!
A corollary question is whether full strength will mean a 3-4-3 like on Wednesday or a 3-5-2 (3-5-1-1, to be exact) like last Sunday. I don’t think Newcastle warrants the latter unlike Liverpool, but I can see Conte thinking otherwise, especially given Chelsea’s usual problems at St James’ Park, not to mention the opportunity to practice for next weekend’s trophy-decider as well.
Either way, the goalkeeper (if fit) and defense will likely stay the same as against Huddersfield, with only Cahill returning to the starting eleven after being “rested” midweek. At wing back, I'm going with Moses and Emerson, the former rotating back in and the latter giving a breather to Alonso, who played the full 90 twice in the last seven days.
“It’s important for us to be focused on the Newcastle game, and then we have five days to think about and prepare for the FA Cup final. Probably I can change something, but not because I am thinking about the FA Cup final, only because someone could be tired after two tough games in three days.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
In midfield, it's naturally Kanté for me but also Bakayoko, who should be given the chance to prove that the Liverpool game wasn't just a fluke on his path to rejuvenation. Kanté could be rested for the same reason as Alonso, but we’d be lost without him.
Our attack should definitely be spearheaded by Giroud with Hazard and Willian alongside him. The latter would most likely be dropped for Fabregas if Conte were to go with a 3-5-2 instead.
Courtois | Rüdiger, Cahill, Azpilicueta | Emerson, Kanté, Bakayoko, Moses | Willian, Giroud, Hazard
The WAGNH community’s preferred line-up is very similar, but with Alonso being preferred ahead of Emerson (38%) and the 3-5-2 nicking the 3-4-3 (33%) as the formation of choice. Technically, the 3-5-2 vote was split between “the NEW 3-5-2” (28%) and the (old) 3-5-1-1 (15%), but chances are they were voted upon interchangeably and the individual player percentages support that notion — ed.note: will probably consolidate those two options next time. Christensen and Willian both got 50% to be the first two out.
Courtois (91%) | Rüdiger (93%), Cahill (60%), Azpilicueta (97%) | Alonso (63%), Fàbregas (54%), Kanté (96%), Bakayoko (70%), Moses (76%) | Hazard (93%), Giroud (88%)