After a week of cup games, Chelsea return to Premier League action at Bournemouth. With Ruben Loftus-Cheek back from injury and the recent acquisition of Gonzalo Higuaín, Maurizio Sarri has an entire squad at his disposal and will almost certainly choose a full strength eleven against a tricky opponent.
Rested on the weekend, Kepa Arrizabalaga should return to the starting eleven where he will be aiming for his eleventh clean sheet of the Premier League season.
Normal order is also resumed in defense as David Luiz, Antonio Rüdiger and César Azpilicueta are all certain to start. But with Marcos Alonso playing the full 90 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup, it would appear that Sarri has flipped the order of his two full backs — perhaps Sarri will finally give Emerson a chance to tie down a starting spot for the rest of the season.
Loftus-Cheek may be fully fit and ready to play, but it’s likely that either Mateo Kovačić or Ross Barkley get the nod to start instead next to undisputed starters Jorginho and N’Golo Kanté in midfield. Kovačić played most of the match on Thursday however, so it’s probably Barkley who will slot in.
After failing to open his Chelsea account on his debut, Gonzalo Higuaín will be thirsting for a goal and I’m sure Eden Hazard will be more than happy to provide him with the service he needs. I’d also like to think that Callum Hudson-Odoi is rewarded with a start after an impressive display but I can’t see him beating Pedro to that right-wing spot.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Barkley, Jorginho, Kanté | Hazard, Higuaín, Pedro
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
A bit optimistic to be sure, but the WAGNH community sees Hudson-Odoi with another start, getting the nod ahead of both Pedro (34%) and Willian (19%). Higuaín’s arrival has given Olivier Giroud (4%) absolutely no chance — Triple H the three up front! — while Emerson is easily favoured over Alonso (14%) as well. In midfield, Loftus-Cheek saw off stern opposition from Barkley (12%) and Kovačić (43%).
Arrizabalaga (99%) | Emerson (83%), David Luiz (87%), Rüdiger (94%), Azpilicueta (96%) | Loftus-Cheek (53%), Jorginho (88%), Kanté (99%) | Hazard (99%), Higuaín (95%), Hudson-Odoi (53%)
Without any hesitation, I’ve gone with the same lineup as the one voted in by the community at large. This is probably the best eleven Chelsea can currently put out. Sunday’s cup game a lot of rotation and thus Higuaín didn’t get the best of service up front; but with Hazard and Hudson-Odoi wreaking havoc on the flanks, Emerson providing proper crosses, and Loftus-Cheek driving the ball forward, this lineup should be truly wonderful to watch.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Kanté | Hazard, Higuaín, Hudson-Odoi
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!