Chelsea’s unbeaten run enters yet another week as the Blues host Édouard Mendy’s former club, Rennes. Frank Lampard’s men will want to see the trend continue and three points would go a long way towards securing qualification to the knockout rounds. However, Chelsea will face some tough opposition here as the Ligue 1 side are no pushovers.
So.. rotation, anybody?
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The answer is a maybe, but not really.
The formation stays the same, 4-3-3 in a landslide. We’ve been playing some of our best — and most balanced — football for a while and the WAGNH community didn’t want to mess that up with the 4-2-3-1 (17%).
Things also remain as they were between the posts. Édouard Mendy retains his spot by the largest of margins, with the remaining choices racking up 2.3% combined. Let’s hope he’ll be itching to go against his former employers.
Despite the voters showing some indecision, only César Azpilicueta rotates in at the back. While Reece James (46%) gets a well-deserved rest, Kurt Zouma, Ben Chilwell and a 36-year old Thiago Silva soldier on. Fikayo Tomori (29%), Antonio Rüdiger (42%) and Emerson (19%) all remain on the bench. Andreas Christensen (13%) seems like a distant memory these days, as does Marcos Alonso (8%).
The midfield three has worked well for Chelsea recently, with two number-eights ahead of N’Golo Kanté. While a fantastic player, it’s up for debate whether Mateo Kovačić will be as effective in that role as he just edges out Kai Havertz (62%) and partners Mason Mount. Jorginho (33%) doesn’t seem needed in this type of setup.
Callum Hudson-Odoi deservedly gets the nod again in the Champions League after opening the scoring in Russia, especially given Christian Pulisic’s forced absence. Hakim Ziyech has started to settle in London and further minutes will help him even more — he’s your votes leader among non-goalkeepers. Tammy Abraham (53%) leads all strikers in votes, ahead of Timo Werner (46%) and Olivier Giroud (26%).
(Ed.note: but with the three of them splitting the vote, Kai Havertz is technically the winner here, since we know he can be deployed as a center forward/false-nine.)
Mendy (98%) | Chilwell (67%), Silva (55%), Zouma (67%), Azpilicueta (62%) | Kovačić (62%), Kanté (68%), Mount (80%) | Hudson-Odoi (73%), Havertz (62%), Ziyech (92%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
I believe resting one more player in particular is a necessity. Thiago Silva’s very quickly starting to grow on me for his dominant performances on the pitch and he’s undoubtedly in immaculate shape for his age; nevertheless, he’s no spring chicken.
We need Silva to start in as many Premier League games as possible and, apart from the return fixture against Sevilla, I would take the opportunity to rest him in the remaining group ties. Chelsea’s defense is gradually growing in confidence and we’ve got enough centre backs to cover for him.
Also, while I was skeptical above about Kovačić in an attacking midfield position, I think it makes sense to give him a try here. He’s clearly a quality player, so let’s see how he pans out.
Keeping both Werner and Havertz fresh seems like a pretty good idea at this point, so I’d start Abraham again instead. Werner in particular might seem superhuman at times, but there’s no need to risk any fatigue issues here.
Mendy | Chilwell, Tomori, Zouma, Azpilicueta | Kovačić, Kanté, Mount | Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Ziyech