While the defeat in the FA Cup final still hurts, there’s no time to wallow in self-pity as Chelsea’s crucial run of games continues against the exact team which beat us by the narrowest of margins on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel made some surprise inclusions on that day; whether or not they ultimately paid off is debatable. No room for such mistakes this time.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s last two starts have only increased the WAGNH community’s wish to see Édouard Mendy in goal, garnering almost 97% of the vote. There isn’t much debate over the formation either, as usual, with the 3-4-3 is miles ahead of the 4-2-3-1 (8%) and the 4-3-3 (6%).
The back three sees usual candidates Antonio Rüdiger, Thiago Silva and César Azpilicueta slot into their usual positions, with Andreas Christensen (16%) and Kurt Zouma (17%) not posing much of a threat in the voting. Marcos Alonso (4%) rotates out for Ben Chilwell, who arguably should have started at the weekend. Reece James plays at right wing-back.
It was an incredibly close call in midfield with Jorginho beating out a possibly fit Mateo Kovačić (41%) by less than a percentage point for a spot next to N’Golo Kanté, who led all players in voting. Billy Gilmour has shown promise in the games he started recently, but not enough to earn more than 13% of the vote.
Chelsea’s biggest problem seems to lie in attack where a lack of chance-conversion has really hurt the team. Kai Havertz hasn’t necessarily been convincing in that department but he nevertheless leads the line with Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount flanking him either side. Timo Werner (30%) and Hakim Ziyech (8%) get dropped, joining Olivier Giroud (11%) and Tammy Abraham (14%).
Mendy (97%) | Rüdiger (96%), Silva (92%), Azpilicueta (67%) | Chilwell (94%), Jorginho (42%), Kanté (97%), James (87%) | Pulisic (83%), Havertz (70%), Mount (92%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
It’s been hard to digest what happened on Saturday but I’d love to see us thrash Leicester City here. To do so, I’m sticking to the lineup I had preferred for the FA Cup final.
Saying our attacking options have been underwhelming would be an understatement, and none of them are free of blame. But I still feel Werner brings more to the table than Pulisic, at least right now, even if I’m open to either of them starting.
I couldn’t really make up my mind whether to drop Jorginho for Kovačić or not. In the end, assuming he’s fit, I ended up favouring the option of bringing him on early.
Oh, and I can’t stress enough how much I believe we need James to start at wing-back. Not that he did much wrong in the final, but we were seriously lopsided throughout the game given Azpilicueta’s age-induced shortcomings.
Mendy | Rüdiger, Silva, Azpilicueta | Chilwell, Kanté, Jorginho, James | Werner, Havertz, Mount