Chelsea will look to get another win on the board as we take on Swedish champions Malmö FF in the the Champions League — and do a bit better than in the loss to Juventus last time out in this competition. The injury crisis seems to be over and everybody is fit apart from Christian Pulisic, though rotation seems a strong possibility nevertheless.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
While the WAGNH community were somewhat split between Édouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga (43%) starting, the formation remained the same as usual, with the 3-4-3 preferred to the 3-5-2 (17%) by a country mile.
(Ed.note: with voting all over the place and only one player, Reece James, garnering over 70%, the selection may be a bit different than what we’ve seen before, but we are still able to shoehorn the players with the most votes — the only 11 over 50%, in fact — into a coherent lineup.)
Despite the relative lack of clear choices, the back-three is the rather familiar combination of Antonio Rüdiger, Thiago Silva (both returning) and Andreas Christensen. Trevoh Chalobah steps into midfield (as he did briefly against Juventus), but Malang Sarr (26%) rotates out. On the wings, Marcos Alonso and Reece James come in for Ben Chilwell (40%) and César Azpilicueta (34%), respectively.
Partnering Chalobah in the middle of the pitch is Jorginho, who was the only midfielder with over 50% of the vote. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (42%) and Mateo Kovačić (29%) have both done tremendously well recently, and get a well deserved rest here, as does N’Golo Kanté (40%). Saúl Ñíguez (31%) comes somewhat close to the starting eleven; Ross Barkley (8%) does not.
Up front, it’s another familiar combination, though one we haven’t seen since the arrival of Romelu Lukaku. But with Lukaku (49%) getting a rest, it’s the main trio from last season who get the nod, namely Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and Mason Mount. Callum Hudson-Odoi (43%) comes close, Hakim Ziyech (28%) less so.
Mendy (57%) | Rüdiger (62%), Silva (68%), Christensen (55%) | Alonso (59%), Jorginho (67%), Chalobah (55%), James (81%) | Werner (54%), Havertz (63%), Mount (64%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
Starting Lukaku may seem redundant and unnecessary given the caliber of opposition, yet this might be a good opportunity to get him back on the scoreboard after a brief dry spell. The same can be said for Havertz. The two haven’t quite clicked when playing together up until now so one can only hope this game may change that.
Ziyech has been in anything but good form recently, but he should have more than enough quality to keep others fresh; the same applies to Kepa. After hearing Thomas Tuchel’s press conference before the game, I’d also have no problem with some more rest for Jorginho and Loftus-Cheek getting another chance to shine.
COME ON, YOU BLUES!!!
Kepa | Rüdiger, Silva, Chalobah | Alonso, Kanté, Loftus-Cheek, James | Havertz, Lukaku, Ziyech