Tomorrow at 2pm (GMT), Chelsea are back in premier league action with the visit of Everton to Stamford Bridge. The Blues have a number of absentees, potentially nine first-team players could be missing. That leaves Frank Lampard with some important decisions to make, as his men aim to get a stranglehold on fourth-place.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was in inspired form in our 2-0 FA Cup victory against Champions-elect, Liverpool. Having missed out for nearly a month, the Spaniards’ performance was easily his best of the season, and certainly one of his best in a Chelsea shirt. I have absolutely no doubt he will start against the Toffees.
I suspect Lampard will want to keep some continuity going after the victory against Liverpool. A return to a back-four worked against the Reds, and for that reason there’s no need to change the system. Andreas Christensen looks to be out, but Kurt Zouma did an excellent job on his return. The Frenchman could continue to partner Antonio Rudiger in the middle. The big decision is really with regards to the full-back roles. Marcos Alonso has been brilliant recently, but equally so it’s difficult to drop Reece James or Cesar Azpilicueta. It might seem time to rest the Spaniard, but then who will captain the team in the absence of Jorginho (suspended), and Willian (Achilles injury). Even so I can see Cesar Azpilicueta filling the role at left-back, with James at right-back.
Mateo Kovacic, the aforementioned Jorginho, and N’Golo Kante are all out. So what would you do with what’s left in the squad? – Billy Gilmour put in a sensational performance against Liverpool. The 18-year-old looks a certainty to start two consecutive games first-team games for the first time in his career. Alongside him, former Everton man, Ross Barkley looks a good bet to start. A fabulous goal during the week, was like a breath of fresh air in what’s been a stop-start Chelsea career since his £15m move south. But who could play alongside those two? – Well, it would be a bit controversial, but why not give Marcos Alonso a chance in midfield. His defensive abilities have been knocked continually, but his attacking prowess is top quality.
Another area where the Blues are lacking numbers. With options scarce, I suspect Mason Mount, and Pedro to start in the wider roles. Olivier Giroud is sure to continue as the main man in the middle.