Injuries and isolations have ravaged the Chelsea squad, yet the grueling fixture schedule continues — thanks a lot, Premier League! Things have come to a point where it’s easier to name who’s available rather than who’s not.
Let Academy Day commence! (Ed.note: well, Academy-ish.)
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
A cup game calls for a cup goalkeeper so the WAGNH community rotated Kepa Arrizabalaga in for Édouard Mendy (11%). The formation stays the same however with the 3-4-3 ahead of the 3-5-2 (16%).
(Ed.note: there were a dozen youth players added to the voting spreadsheet, and that still missed a couple who joined training on Tuesday, such as Jude Soonsup-Bell, George McEachran, and Charlie Webster.)
Given all the uncertainty, the voting was all over the place, with Malang Sarr leading all non-goalkeepers with 78%. He’s joined by debutant Xavier Mbuyamba and César Azpilicueta in the back three, with Thiago Silva (28%) and Antonio Rüdiger (41%) rested and the rest ruled out.
Saúl Ñíguez gets to play left wing-back while Reece James stays on the right in light of no other immediately recognized options out there. Marcos Alonso’s (40%) on the bench alongside academy defenders Alfie Gilchrist (23%), Josh Brooking (24%), and Dion Rankine (20%).
The pivot sees superstar-in-the-making Harvey Vale receive his debut next to Jorginho, whose test result turned out to be a false-positive. Lewis Baker (41%) received a fair amount of votes, but has since been ruled out due to a positive test. Most unfortunate, as Tuchel confirmed that he had been counting on Baker to start.
Up front, 18-year old Bryan Fiabema leads the line, flanked by the more experienced options in Ross Barkley and Christian Pulisic. Regulars Mason Mount (42%) and Hakim Ziyech (43%) get a breather while Jayden Wareham (25%) joins the bench as well.
(Ed.note: there was one (1) write-in vote for both Thomas Tuchel and Sam Kerr, but I don’t believe they’d be eligible in any case. Sorry!)
Arrizabalaga (82%) | Sarr (78%), Mbuyamba (70%), Azpilicueta (68%) | Saúl (67%), Jorginho (48%) Vale (53%), James (47%) | Pulisic (62%), Fiabema (47%), Barkley (74%)