Morale is still somewhat low following the scarring humiliation at the hands of Manchester City a little more than a week ago, but now Chelsea host Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup in what promises to be an instant classic, and a chance of redemption for Maurizio Sarri’s men.
Kepa Arrizabalaga has needed to pick the ball out of the net far too often recently, and it sure would be a nice change of pace if this would stop happening. Please?
Tragically, I can’t see Sarri going with anything else than the (first-choice?) back four that has been very leaky recently. Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rüdiger and César Azpilicueta haven’t been in the best of form, to say the least, so we’ll have to hope that the quartet have one of their good days at the office.
With Ruben Loftus-Cheek facing a late fitness test, it seems fairly certain that one of Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovačić — my money’s on the latter of the two — will start on the left of the midfield three with the tireless N’golo Kanté and the tired Jorginho starting as usual. Whether Jorginho is able to perform even to his barely adequate levels in what will be his third game in eight days remains to be seen.
There’s not much to say in attack; most will agree that Callum Hudson-Odoi deserves a chance, especially as this is a cup game. However, the possibility of this happening is slim and that’s why I’m confident that we’ll be getting an attacking band consisting of Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuaín and Willian.
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Barkley, Jorginho, Kanté | Hazard, Higuaín, Willian
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community did all it could to provide Sarri with Chelsea’s strongest current lineup, even if Sarri-ball remains the firm favorite among the formations (non-Sarri 4-3-3 is next at 20%). Emerson deservedly starts ahead of Alonso (24%) while Christensen’s recent good performances earns him a spot ahead of David Luiz (49%). As has been the case almost every time over the past couple months, Hudson-Odoi is preferred to both Willian (26%) and Pedro (11%). Barkley’s (35%) midweek goal wasn’t enough to tie down a place and Loftus-Cheek’s (30%) uncertain health condition will have surely affected his vote totals.
Arrizabalaga (94%) | Emerson (74%), Christensen (64%), Rüdiger (87%), Azpilicueta (90%) | Kovačić (64%), Jorginho (56%), Kanté (98%) | Hazard (98%), Higuaín (97%), Hudson-Odoi (73%)
Unlike the community’s preference, I’d drop Rüdiger for Christensen and would definitely get Loftus-Cheek in there, probably at the expense of Jorginho (with Kovačić deputizing at regista instead). Add in the Triple H up front, and this would be our most potent attacking force at the moment.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, David Luiz, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Loftus-Cheek, Kovačić, Kanté | Hazard, Higuaín, Hudson-Odoi
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!