As the first international break of the 2017-18 season approaches, Chelsea go into the fixture against Bournemouth today having won all three games in the league so far despite also still very much in the process of implementing a brand new system and philosophy.
Perhaps precisely because of all those changes, Maurizio Sarri has kept his lineup selections very consistent. Winning does allow that to happen, though with Europa League and domestic cup games coming up shortly after the players return from international duty, rotation should be introduced soon.
For now, the gaffer is expected to be resorting to familiar faces in order to keep Chelsea’s fantastic start to the campaign going.
The formation of choice, now and Sarri-forever, is 4-3-3 (not that this is a bad thing).
Kepa Arrizabalaga obviously starts in goal as he continues to get used to his new environment and hopes to build up further confidence as Chelsea’s new number one. In defense, the quartet of César Azpilicueta, Antonio Rüdiger, David Luiz, and Marcos Alonso should maintain their places, and any debate about David Luiz potentially being dropped for Andreas Christensen will surely have to wait until after the international break (if it happens at all).
After a truly pass-dominant performance against Newcastle last weekend, the midfield trio of Jorginho, N’golo Kanté, and Mateo Kovačić should be trotted out just the same, even if that means Ross “training superstar” Barkley will have to make do with a bench role once again.
Lastly, Chelsea’s attacking trio will presumably be made up of Eden Hazard, Pedro, and Alvaro Morata as the former two have shown great potential in the new system during the first three games. Morata is a bit of an uncertainty as World Cup winner Olivier Giroud continues to push for a starting spot, but for now, the recently recalled Spainish international is expected to retain his place.
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Kovačić, Jorginho, Kanté | Hazard, Morata, Pedro
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community’s preferred line-up picks Andreas Christensen over David Luiz (38%) — unlike last week — but otherwise, it’s a carbon copy of the predicted one. In the battle of percentages, Kovačić has increased his lead over Barkley (21%) but not Loftus-Cheek (16%) after last week’s fitness-affected performance and should continue making that third spot in midfield his own. In attack, Pedro drops from 81% to 59% but Willian only gains one point to 34%, with the rest going to Giroud (18%) and Hudson-Odoi (12%), who was not part of the squad last week.
Arrizabalaga (98%) | Alonso (93%), Christensen (60%), Rüdiger (95%), Azpilicueta (95%) | Kovačić (68%), Jorginho (98%), Kanté (96%) | Hazard (97%), Morata (72%), Pedro (59%)
The preferred line-up mirrors the people’s choice, with one exception. While I agree with the community’s choice to give Christensen the starting spot long-term, I don’t think it’s a good idea to throw the young centre back into the mix right before the international break. Despite his defensive lapses, David Luiz and the other three defenders have become well attuned to one another.
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante | Hazard, Morata, Pedro
COME ON YOU BLUES!