There were few surprises in Maurizio Sarri’s first starting lineup in the Premier League.
Building on what we had seen in preseason, only three of the eleven positions had relatively new faces occupying them: N’Golo Kanté as the third midfielder next to Jorginho and Ross Barkley, Willian as the left winger, and Kepa Arrizabalaga as the goalkeeper.
Arrizabalaga was always going to start as Chelsea’s record signing, and perhaps the other two were as well, but they were also replacing players who both may be injured.
In the case of the midfield, that was confirmed by Cesc Fàbregas himself, who posted about his rehab work on his Instagram just a few hours before kick-off. Clearly, he wasn’t going to be taking any part.
It appears Fabregas has stayed at Cobham #cfc pic.twitter.com/yekAq46gPx— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) August 11, 2018
Fàbregas has been nursing a knee injury since the Arsenal friendly a couple weeks ago, and even though he played against Manchester City in the Community Shield, he’s clearly still affected by it.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports on Twitter are claiming that Callum Hudson-Odoi limped out of training yesterday, which likely explains his omission from the matchday squad despite playing a big role in preseason. This bit isn’t confirmed, but it’s as good an explanation as any — including the one where Sarri could’ve just preferred a more experienced option in Victor Moses.