Chelsea might be running hot and cold in the Premier League, but the FA Cup offers a completely different challenge. The Blues will play against Nottingham Forest in the third round for the second year in a row and will hope to emulate last season’s positive result. We can expect a fair share of youngsters to be given a chance here.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The 3-4-3 (5%) is firmly back on the discard pile as the WAGNH community have placed faith in the 4-2-3-1, but only by a few percentage points over the 4-3-3 (43%).
While normally there is fairly solid consensus among the community, the voting for this one was all over the place, with most of the regular starters left out for youth and fringe players. One of the more obvious choices is Willy Caballero replacing Kepa Arrizabalaga (19%) for the first time in several months, since our exit from the League Cup.
The usual suspects in defense, including Antonio Rüdiger (27%), Kurt Zouma (26%), César Azpilicueta (11%), and the injured Fikayo Tomori (27%) all get well-earned rests. The back four therefore counts on the experience of Andreas Christensen and Reece James, with Marc Guehi and Tariq Lamptey coming in from the Academy.
(Ed.note: that’s two nominal right backs selected, so one of James or Lamptey would have to switch flanks or give way to Emerson (47%). Lamptey does have at least one game at left back to his name, unlike James, coming in a 6-1 win over Fulham U18 a couple years ago. Incidentally, the man on the right wing of Jody Morris’s 3-4-3 on the day was none other than James. Lamptey collected an assist with a cross from the left, even.)
Another player who played in that game was Billy Gilmour, and he’s selected next to the forgotten Ross Barkley in the pivot. Regulars Jorginho (34%) and N’Golo Kanté (20%) are rested.
Mateo Kovačić takes up a more forward role with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic next to him on the wings. Pulisic just beats out Pedro (51%), while Mason Mount (25%) and Willian (8%) miss out. It’s worth noting that youngster Tino Anjorin recorded a very respectable 21%, hopefully being given some minutes by Frank Lampard at some point.
Primary backup striker Michy Batshuayi gets his chance to shine as he comes in for the in-form Tammy Abraham (14%). Olivier Giroud (5%) has been deemed fit to play, but the community has not.
Caballero (73%) | Lamptey (55%), Guehi (51%), Christensen (87%), James (62%) | Barkley (72%), Gilmour (70%), | Hudson-Odoi (87%), Kovačić (55%), Pulisic (52%) | Batshuayi (82%)
MY PREFERRED LINEUP
I’m going for a mix of experience and youth here. While we shouldn’t go too overboard, the opportunity is a good one to give minutes to fringe players and, apart from preferring a 4-3-3, the only change I’d make is giving Ian Maatsen a start at left-back.
Caballero | Maatsen, Guehi, Christensen, James | Barkley, Kovačić, Gilmour | Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi, Pulisic
COME ON, YOU BLUES!!!