The international break is nearly upon us and before the meaningless games start again we get to see one more meaningful one today. Chelsea take on the biggest surprise package of last season, and while Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United will be without Ethan Ampadu (ineligible, obviously), this game will certainly be no picnic. A strong lineup is an absolute must if Frank Lampard wants to close the gap to league leaders ... Southampton? (I did say Ralph Hasenhüttl is the real deal.)
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community went with the now trusted 4-3-3 once again, with the 4-2-3-1 reaching only a season-low 13%. A small minority seemed to think the 3-4-3 (3%) might be the way to go against the Blades’ infamous three at the back.
In general, there weren’t many surprises and certainly none in the back four: Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma, and Reece James have been working well, so why change a winning formula. César Azpilicueta (34%) did receive a fair amount of votes in favour of resting James, but Fikayo Tomori was the best of the rest at 10%.
Due to a lack of options in midfield — Havertz out with COVID-19, Gilmour not yet ready — only Jorginho (29%) has to miss out, with N’Golo Kanté, Mason Mount, and Mateo Kovačić forming the central trio.
Jorginho proves to be the only change, with the community preferring to keep the Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and Tammy Abraham combination up front, who will hopefully continue the trend of scoring lots of goals. Christian Pulisic (8%) wasn’t to be risked, even before he was officially ruled out. Callum Hudson-Odoi (56%) and Olivier Giroud (10%) remain backup options only.
Mendy (98%) | Chilwell (88%), Silva (90%), Zouma (90%), James (76%) | Kovačić (68%), Kanté (94%), Mount (96%) | Werner (71%), Abraham (72%), Ziyech (98%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
Given the continued absences of Havertz and Pulisic, there were few if no other choices in midfield or attack than the ones the community made. One could certainly make an argument for Giroud being the better option to lead the line against Sheffield’s three physically imposing centre-backs, but Abraham’s starting to find a rhythm.
I do think that Azpilicueta would be a good choice at right-back due to Wilder’s side often looking to overload the opposing team with their centre-backs moving up the pitch. Azpi is still the more defensively sound option over James, though that will very likely change in the near future.
Otherwise, as you were.
Mendy | Chilwell, Silva, Zouma, Azpilicueta | Kovačić, Kanté, Mount | Werner, Abraham, Ziyech