Chelsea take on Aston Villa in the Third Round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, less than two weeks after sweeping them aside by a margin of three goals to none in the league. Compared to the strong starting lineup that day however, one would expect a fair amount of rotation for this cup tie. This is the chance several fringe players have waited for!
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community stuck to the 3-4-3 formation ahead of the 3-5-2 (22%), though the latter was quite successful in the second half against Spurs. Kepa Arrizabalaga, who kept a clean sheet on Sunday, retains his spot in goal due to Édouard Mendy’s injury and Marcus Bettinelli (11%) being no more than third choice.
The community have voted in Malang Sarr, who would thus be making his Chelsea debut alongside Andreas Christensen and leading vote-getter Trevoh Chalobah. Regulars Thiago Silva (12%) and Antonio Rüdiger (24%) get a breather. Chelsea Academy talent Xavier Mbuyamba might not be in the first eleven, but received a notable 15% of the votes after a lengthy spell on the sidelines last year.
All the usual midfield starters — Mateo Kovačić (26%), N’Golo Kanté (19%), Jorginho (21%) — sit this one out. Instead, a very adventurous and, dare I say, fragile combination of Saúl Ñíguez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek start in the pivot. At wing-back, Reece James and Ben Chilwell supply the width; Marcos Alonso (4%) and César Azpilicueta (18%) rotate out.
Romelu Lukaku (13%) gets some well deserved rest as Timo Werner takes over leading the line for the day. He is flanked by Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi, with Christian Pulisic set to miss out through injury and Kai Havertz (15%) and Mason Mount (20%) on substitute duty.
Kepa (88%) | Sarr (49%), Christensen (74%), Chalobah (95%) | Chilwell (95%), Loftus-Cheek (59%), Saúl (82%), James (84%) | Hudson-Odoi (80%), Werner (92%), Ziyech (75%)
MY PREFERRED CHOICE
I wasn’t really impressed with Sarr during preseason, even as I was hopeful we’d finally have a left-footed center back at the club. But Rüdiger can’t play each and every game so there’s very little choice seeing as how we don’t really have any other proven back-up options at left-center back.
As much as I love Loftus-Cheek, I’m not sure a pivot of him and Saúl will have a good time against Villa’s midfield. Cup game or not, we don’t want to get overrun — again. And Ruben has barely had any game time. So I’d like to see Saúl team up with Jorginho instead.
The rest of the lineup is the same as the community vote.
COME ON, YOU BLUES!!!
Kepa | Sarr, Christensen, Chalobah | Chilwell, Saúl, Jorginho, James | Hudson-Odoi, Werner, Ziyech