The pre-match press conferences from both Chelsea and Liverpool were filled with promises of taking things seriously in this dress rehearsal for Saturday’s main event in the Premier League, but rotation is still expected to be the order of the day.
Undoubtedly, both managers would love to win this third round match in the League Cup, so it may all come down to who’s willing to risk more for the lowest priority competition in either team’s fixture list.
While Arrizabalaga did start in the Europa League (making his UEFA competition debut in the process), I expect Willy Caballero to be given his first appearance of the season. Caballero was Chelsea’s “cup goalkeeper” last season and there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case this season.
In defense, Rüdiger’s injury makes rotation an absolute necessity, with Cahill likely to get the nod as the direct replacement. He finished out Sunday’s match alongside David Luiz, but in this one, he could very well partner Andreas Christensen to give David Luiz the midweek rest, just like last week. Rest is surely on order for Marcos Alonso as well, if Sarri can bring himself to play Emerson, while Davide Zappacosta seems likely on the right.
Cesc Fàbregas will presumably return to the starting XI for the first time since the Community Shield, probably in Jorginho’s role as regista. Next to him, Ross Barkley is certain to be given another chance to impress while N’Golo Kanté is N’Golo Kanté, even if (especially as?) he’s still learning the position.
The attacking trio is a bit of a tricky one. Morata looks certain to start after being a substitute on Sunday. With Pedro continuing to nurse an injury and Eden Hazard expected to sit this one out, I can see Callum Hudson-Odoi finally being given his first start of the season with Willian making a third consecutive start (or Victor Moses, who’s also been a forgotten man over the past month).
Caballero | Alonso, Cahill, Christensen, Zappacosta | Barkley, Fabregas, Kanté | Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Willian
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community’s preferred lineup brings all the noise from the youth, with both Ampadu and Hudson-Odoi garnering enough votes for a start. Ampadu does have to move up to midfield to do so, but that’s where he’s impressed with Wales, so no big deal. Victor Moses does get a bit of love as well, beating out Willian (40%) and Hazard (31%), but Caballero (39%) splits the vote with Bułka (9%) and thus loses out to Kepa.
This certainly would be a bold lineup from Sarri.
Arrizabalaga (50%) | Emerson (73%), Cahill (56%), Christensen (91%), Zappacosta (69%) | Barkley (84%), Ampadu (53%), Fàbregas (73%) | Hudson-Odoi (75%), Morata (76%), Moses (50%)
My preferred line up is pretty much the same as the predicted one for Sarri, with the one key exception of Ampadu getting the nod ahead of Cahill in defense. Ampadu played there in preseason (alongside David Luiz) and surely handled himself well enough to earn this opportunity. Also, I’m a big fan of Zappacosta ... being on the bench.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, Ampadu, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Barkley, Fàbregas, Kanté | Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Willian
COME ON, YOU BLUES!