The first game of the 2021-22 season is upon us and Chelsea will be looking to bag our second trophy of the Thomas Tuchel era. Our bloated preseason squad has been trimmed down and Chelsea have the luxury of traveling with a strong squad with no injuries to take on Europa League winners Villarreal in Belfast.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
Though it’s been a long summer for a lot of players on international duty, the WAGNH community want to win the Super Cup, so a full strength lineup is the obvious choice with the 3-4-3 here to stay with a two-thirds majority. And that means that Édouard Mendy retains his starting spot ahead of back up Kepa Arrizabalaga (4%) and new boy Marcus Bettinelli (1%).
With the exception of a very popular Antonio Rüdiger, the other two spots in the back three were up for grabs. Trevoh Chalobah (20%) has been fantastic during preseason, but it wasn’t enough to sway the community. The same was the case for Kurt Zouma (28%) and Andreas Christensen (42%) who therefore make way for Thiago Silva and César Azpilicueta to restore last year’s first-choice lineup.
It was a similar scenario in midfield, with N’Golo Kanté leading all non-goalkeepers in voting, but the spot next to him a tight affair. Mason Mount barely pips Mateo Kovačić (50%) to that deeper role, which would certainly be a bold choice from Tuchel. Double European Champion Jorginho (47%) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (11%) both take a seat on the bench. Meanwhile, Reece James and Ben Chilwell immediately slot back in at wing-back so Marcos Alonso (26%) watches from the sideline.
Golden boy Kai Havertz was always going to start, the same being the case for Hakim Ziyech, who has arguably been our most in-form player throughout preseason. Timo Werner comfortably grabs the last spot ahead of both Christian Pulisic (43%) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (34%) miss out. Tammy Abraham (8%) managed fewer votes than all but one player, Emerson (2%).
Mendy (95%) | Rüdiger (92%), Silva (57%), Azpilicueta (53%) | Chilwell (62%), Mount (52%), Kanté (92%), James (62%) | Havertz (88%), Werner (74%), Ziyech (60%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
I’m going to stick to my guns and go with the choices I made on the podcast. That means Hudson-Odoi needs to start at RWB instead of the only just-returned James. CHO has looked good these past weeks and deserves to be given a chance. As Tuchel said, no more hiding. It’s time to shine!
Kanté gave us a slight injury scare during the open training session on Tuesday, but, if fully fit, he needs to start. I’ve also got a slight feeling that Tuchel might go with Loftus-Cheek. While I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to this, I think Jorginho needs to start after the season he had. He’s integral to this team and this game has his name written all over it.
Oh, and I really want to see Thiago Silva play the full 90 this time and lift that trophy. He’s earned it, just like the rest of the lads.
COME ON, YOU BLUES!!!
Mendy | Rüdiger, Silva, Azpilicueta | Chilwell, Kanté, Jorginho, Hudson-Odoi | Werner, Havertz, Mount