Chelsea haven’t exactly been enjoying themselves lately and confidence levels are consequently not too high. However, today the Blues face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley and, as far as one-off games go, anything can happen. Maurizio Sarri’s tactics came under heavy fire after the team’s 6-0 defeat to the same opposition the other week so it’ll be interesting to see whether he has learnt anything from his mistakes.
Sarri conducted a hybrid press conference on Thursday, talking about the Malmö win and previewing today’s game; consequently, we haven’t had any official word on Kepa Arrizabalaga’s hamstring injury or availability. The narrative has been trending towards Willy Caballero starting against his old team however.
Given the season so far, it’s tough to see Sarri making any changes to his usual starters in defense, despite Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rüdiger and even César Azpilicueta getting ripped to shreds by Agüero, Sterling & Co.
Similarly, Jorginho and N’Golo Kanté will continue to play as normal, and while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is finally available again, it’s more likely that one of Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovačić will continue to start next to them instead. My guess is on Barkley.
Pedro missed Thursday’s game due to illness and it seems unlikely that he’ll get rushed back with Willian available to play opposite Eden Hazard, while Sarri-man Gonzalo Higuaín gets another chance to impress in the middle.
Caballero | Alonso, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta | Barkley, Jorginho, Kanté | Hazard, Higuaín, Willian
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
Several solid choices among the WAGNH community’s preferences, including Alonso (22%), David Luiz (48%), and Barkley/Kovačić (24%/50%) getting dropped for Emerson, Christensen, and Loftus-Cheek, respectively, plus Hudson-Odoi clearly favoured over Willian (29%) and Pedro (2%).
This lineup, or even a similar one, would defy most every habit we’ve come to know from Maurizio Sarri this season, but this is arguably our strongest lineup at the moment.
Arrizabalaga (62%) | Emerson (77%), Christensen (67%), Rüdiger (89%), Azpilicueta (92%) | Loftus-Cheek (56%), Jorginho (58%), Kanté (99%) | Hazard (98%), Higuaín (92%), Hudson-Odoi (76%)
Except for keeping David Luiz over Rüdiger, my preferred lineup is identical to that of the community, and should provide Chelsea with the best shot at getting anything from this game. Christensen’s calmness at the back should do well paired with the vision of David Luiz. Emerson over Alonso is long overdue and there’s no longer a need to justify Hudson-Odoi over any of the other options.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, David Luiz, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Kanté | Hazard, Higuaín, Hudson-Odoi
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!