Chelsea have won four of five in all competitions, and have a great chance to keep that form going as we begin our FA Cup campaign with a home match against Preston North End on Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, Preston have just four wins total in the last three months, though they’re still a second-division side (midtable, thanks to a fantastic start to the season) and mustn’t be taken too lightly.
And we do have another cup match against a Championship outfit just three days after this, away to Middlesbrough in the League Cup, so some balance of fitness and rotation must be found.
Enzo Fernández and Mykhailo Mudryk were both on the bench last weekend (with Enzo playing a few minutes, even), and were also spotted in training this week, so presumably they’ve now recovered from their recent injuries. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Roméo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu, Trevoh Chalobah, or Carney Chukwuemeka, while Reece James, Marc Cucurella, Robert Sánchez, and Wesley Fofana are still out long-term.
Ben Chilwell has returned to light training but isn’t ready to play, while Benoît Badiashile is questionable after missing out with a last-minute knock last time. And Nicolas Jackson has now left for the Africa Cup of Nations.
So that could mean some opportunities for the likes of Alfie Gilchrist or Leo Castledine or others — perhaps even the returning Andrey Santos, though that would mean that he wouldn’t be able to go out on loan for the rest of this season.