Chelsea host Newcastle on Monday night and it feels somewhat like a pretty big deal. If we win we finally return into the top-four, thanks to others dropping points this weekend. It’s the perfect opportunity for Thomas Tuchel. However, Chelsea will have to be much better than against Barnsley.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
No changes in the formation department as the WAGNH community sticks to the 3-4-3 ahead of the 4-2-3-1 (16%) and 4-3-3 (9%).
The same is true between the sticks, where a good outing from Kepa Arrizabalaga (4%) in the FA Cup is not enough to displace Édouard Mendy, not by a long shot.
The back three sees Antonio Rüdiger, Kurt Zouma and César Azpilicueta start as Andreas Christensen’s (23%) recent injury makes him a doubt. Marcos Alonso (44%) can’t quite get past Ben Chilwell while Reece James is a pretty easy choice at this point. Emerson (1%) unceremoniously returns to the bench.
It was a tight battle in midfield but “Jovačić” just about manage to keep out N’Golo Kanté (52%) and Billy Gilmour (10%).
The attacking band is led by a returning Timo Werner, who will hope to finally emulate Tammy Abraham (40%) by actually scoring. Mason Mount lines up in support alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is arguably the first name on the team sheet nowadays. Christian Pulisic (33%) and Hakim Ziyech (23%) didn’t do much midweek to justify any consideration. Olivier Giroud (11%) remains more of an impact sub.
Mendy (95%) | Rüdiger (90%), Zouma (78%), Azpilicueta (76%) | Chilwell (53%), Jorginho (56%), Kovačić (81%), James (70%) | Hudson-Odoi (84%), Werner (81%), Mount (93%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
I can’t believe I’m writing this— and I feel like I’m jinxing it by doing so — but Rüdiger has been solid these past few games despite a comical own goal. On merit, he should start ahead of Zouma, who seemed a bit shaky against Barnsley. I’m hoping Christensen is fit enough to play.
Ziyech and Pulisic were very poor in the cup so, for me, there is no debate up front. You can make an argument for Tammy starting ahead of Werner, but I’m sticking with my plan to keep going with the latter until he finally hits the back of the net again. Newcastle might be a good opportunity for that (just like the ten previous matches...).
I was a bit surprised to see how close things were in midfield. Jorginho isn’t the most popular player, but we’ve looked better with him in the side than without. Breaking up “Jovačić” doesn’t make sense, especially in a must-win.
Mendy | Rüdiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Chilwell, Jorginho, Kovačić, James | Hudson-Odoi, Werner, Mount