Last match of the Premier League season against Aston Villa at their home turf Villa Park, with nothing set in stone just yet for the Blues. In ideal times, this could have been a farewell match to some of our most beloved players. But we need to wrap it all up on the most positive note — a Champions League berth. And more often than not, responsibilities should be put above the things we want to do for love.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The most reliable hands of Édouard Mendy are the go-to to the community, with 96% of us voting for him to start the upcoming match ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Wilfredo Caballero and Petr Cech. Formation wise, we want to stick to the true and trusted 3-4-3 formation (88%), over the other usual suspects in the 4-2-3-1 (7%) and 4-3-3 (4%) tactical shapes.
While the Reece James experiment at the back three worked out well against Leicester City’s Jamie Hardy, the most dangerous player on the other side of the pitch is one attacking midfielder/left winger called Jack Grealish. Thus it is most likely that we prefer James to return to right wing-back duty (88%), with César Azpilicueta (63%), Thiago Silva (86%) and Antonio Rüdiger (97%) providing support while dealing with another threat, centre-forward Ollie Watkins. Ben Chilwell (90%) is the preferred guy to stay on the left lane, over Marcos Alonso (7%) and Emerson (1%).
With N’Golo Kanté doubtful to feature after almost picking up an injury last Tuesday when playing against Leicester City in a crucial league game, it is best not to push him back to the pitch given the big match we have next weekend. That explains the community’s preference for Jorginho (84%) and Mateo Kovacic (92%) in the famed pivot, with young Billy Gilmour (11%) not being a threat to either of them in the poll.
Another doubtful player, Kai Havertz, makes it easier for us to pick a starting attacking line for the game against Villa. Mason Mount (92%) has been a key player to our efforts, and we cannot just drop him out of a game that can confirm our Champions League berth for next season. Christian Pulisic (70%) is his preferred companion on the wing, with Timo Werner (78%) spearheading our attacking forays.
Mendy (96%) | Azpilicueta (63%), Silva (86%), Rüdiger (97%) | James (88%), Kovacic (92%), Jorginho (84%), Chilwell (90%) | Pulisic (70%), Werner (78%), Mount (92%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
The risk of losing Kanté for the biggest match of the season makes it so we cannot repeat the same lineup we had against Leicester City, which arguably features all of our best players at the moment. And there are not many tweaks to make to the community’s lineup, to be quite honest.
I would still like to see Andreas Christensen getting a start, if possible. Thiago is the best player for the position, but Christensen has done a pretty good job thus far as his substitute and it would be a good reward for him to play in the final match of the season.
It is harder to argue in a similar manner for Billy Gilmour over Jorginho. Had we already secured the CL berth, then a battle against John McGinn and Douglas Luiz would be a very good test for the Scottish international. But the occasion is simply too big for us to take any risks.
Whereas upfront, I am far from happy with the lack of minutes to Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi since Thomas Tuchel took over. If the manager decided to change it all on a whim, the rust on both — and the ensuing disastrous performances because of it — would be enough to end their good favours with Chelsea’s fanbase.
Mendy | Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rüdiger | James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell | Pulisic, Werner, Mount