Chelsea take on Barnsley in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup and look to solidify the recent run of good form. Barnsley sits firmly midtable in the Championship, comfortably above the relegation zone yet also far away from the playoff spots. Expect them to take this game seriously and hope for some cup magic.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The 3-4-3 remains the WAGNH community’s primary choice, though not quite strongly as before as many of you did lean towards a 4-2-3-1 (26%), with the 4-3-3 (13%) coming in third.
Kepa Arrizabalaga gets his first start under the new regime while Édouard Mendy (19%) takes a break from all the non-existent shots on target he’s had to deal with recently.
With Thiago Silva out and some rest being a good idea for both César Azpilicueta (35%) and Antonio Rüdiger (35%), Chelsea’s backline takes an “interesting” turn, with either Ben Chilwell or Reece James needing to slot in as one of the three alongside Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma. (Ed.note: James, who has played in defensive midfield a fair few times in the last few seasons to great effect would be the more logical choice over Chilwell, who’s almost exclusively played wide left since joining Leicester at age 12.)
The midfield pivot of Mateo Kovačić (15%) and Jorginho (12%) have worked tirelessly these past few weeks and they deservedly sit this one out; the same goes for Mason Mount (23%). This means that Billy Gilmour and N’Golo Kanté are left to run the midfield. No news about Kai Havertz’s (35%) fitness means he misses out. Chilwell slots in at left wing-back, while Hudson-Odoi returns as the right wing-back, though Christian Pulisic should also be available now and he could conceivably feature there as well.
Pulisic just barely squeaks into the starting lineup ahead of Emerson (39%), but there is no doubt about either Hakim Ziyech or Tammy Abraham, who both score in the 80s. Timo Werner (7%) gets a rest while Olivier Giroud (15%) hasn’t done enough to convince the community. Tino Anjorin (32%) does receive a fair amount of votes, but not quite enough to earn the start.
Arrizabalaga (73%) | Zouma (90%), Christensen (85%), James (74%) | Chilwell (48%), Gilmour (91%), Kanté (81%), Hudson-Odoi (52%) | Pulisic (40%), Abraham (85%), Ziyech (86%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
With Pulisic’s status up in the air, there aren’t many options to rotate on the wings. Hudson-Odoi pretty much has to start and who knows, maybe he’ll score a few and keep the goals coming afterwards as well. I’m also really hoping that Ziyech makes an impact in this game as we need him to get back to the top of his game for the league.
While I agree Chilwell should start, I’d rather not have him or James start in the back three. As such, I sacrifice the rest for Azpilicueta, and I’m pretty sure he can take it. Otherwise, I concur with the community’s choices and hope to see the odd academy player come on as well during the course of the game.
Arrizabalaga | Zouma, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Chilwell, Gilmour, Kanté, James | Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Ziyech