Chelsea qualified as group winners for the knockout stages of the Champions League in the most emphatic way last week, so now it’s all about resting key players and giving some minutes to fringe players, some of whom already performed well against Sevilla. Here’s hoping that we might even see a couple new academy players get a chance.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
While an entirely different starting eleven comes into play, the WAGNH community unsurprisingly stick to Frank Lampard’s successful recipe of the 4-3-3 (71%), well ahead of the 4-2-3-1 (19%), 3-4-3 (7%) and, newly in the fold, the 4-4-2 (3%).
Kepa (79%) gets the nod from the community, just as he’s confirmed to be getting it from the manager for this dead rubber match; hopefully showing some good signs to make his stock rise for the next transfer windows. Édouard Mendy (13%) gets a well deserved rest with Willy Caballero (8%) possibly making the bench.
In defence, it’s the same back four as last week, with Emerson, Antonio Rüdiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta starting ahead of the usual foursome. Fikayo Tomori (53%) comes close, but not close enough, while Marcos Alonso (24%) also misses out once again — one would expect them to be on their way out soon.
In midfield, Mateo Kovačić (57%), Mason Mount (12%) and N’Golo Kanté all receive some well deserved rest, while Kai Havertz gets the chance to gain some more form and match fitness. I’m excited to see Billy Gilmour back on the pitch, as Jorginho completes the central trio.
The attacking trident sees Callum Hudson-Odoi come in for the injured Hakim Ziyech — or would see had Lampard not confirmed that Hudson-Odoi will miss out through injury as well. So that means that Kai Havertz is needed in the front three (and Kovačić in the midfield), alongside Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham, who replace current regulars Timo Werner (16%) and Olivier Giroud (18%). Or maybe this is a chance for Tino Anjorin, who got around 5% as a write-in candidate?
Arrizabalaga (79%) | Emerson (79%), Rüdiger (78%), Christensen (72%), Azpilicueta (94%) | Kovačić (58%), Jorginho (87%), Gilmour (92%) | Pulisic (61%), Abraham (84%), Havertz (74%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
There’s no arguing against all-out on rotation as it’d be needlessly risky to do anything else.
However, I would like to see Tomori given a chance to shine and stake a claim, ahead of Rüdiger. I’d also like to see Valentino Livramento or Tino Anjorin come off the bench to replace Christian Pulisic early on in the second half. Pulisic does need the game time to further improve his match sharpness but this is the perfect opportunity to an exciting prospect, especially given recent injuries leaving us with just one natural winger.