Ziyech And Aubameyang To Start; Sterling, Koulibaly And Havertz Dropped: Chelsea’s Predicted XI To Play City
Chelsea manager Graham Potter says that the Blues’ performance against Nottingham Forest at the weekend “wasn’t good enough” and that’s an understatement, to say the least.
After going 1-0 up following some quick reactions from Raheem Sterling, they tried to coast towards victory, thinking they could get away with doing the bare minimum against a relegation-threatened opponent.
The lack of energy, work rate and quality was extremely concerning and they will have to do A LOT better if they are to get any points from the game against Manchester City on Thursday night.
Press the next page as we predict Chelsea’s starting lineup for the match at Stamford Bridge.
GK – Kepa Arrizabalaga
With Edouard Mendy still sidelined with a shoulder problem, Kepa will keep his place in goal for the City clash.
It was a mixed bag for the Spaniard against Forest, saving well when face to face with Brennan Johnson, but he will be disappointed that Serge Aurier’s shot found its way through his legs for the equaliser.
RB – Cesar Azpilicueta
The Blues captain can’t offer what Reece James offers down the right flank and it reduces the team’s creativity on the ball significantly.
Azpilicueta can always do a job defensively, which means he should be perfectly suited for the City game, but Chelsea’s recruitment department need to be looking for alternatives on the transfer market this month.
CB – Trevoh Chalobah
Kalidou Koulibaly struggled once again at the City Ground and it remains to be seen whether Potter will lose patience with him.
Chalobah is waiting in the wings to replace the Senegalese international, and it would be a big call if the 23-year-old was picked to start versus City.
CB – Thiago Silva
You do have to wonder whether the 38-year-old’s legs will hold out for the third game in nine days but he is the club’s best centre-back.
Potter would be very reluctant to rest him when he is facing such a formidable opponent as City. It would, though, be a shock if the Brazilian started the following game in the FA Cup this weekend.
LB – Marc Cucurella
Ben Chilwell is not expected to be available until after the Fulham fixture next week, so Cucurella will be asked to fill in, at least until then.
The Spaniard hasn’t done a lot wrong since the World Cup but he needs to offer a lot more in the final third of the pitch.
CM – Jorginho
The Italian is exposed when there aren’t players in the team who can cover the ground around him, so the return of Kovacic should help him a great deal.
Getting control of possession against City is vital and, with Jorginho one of Chelsea’s best technicians on the ball, he will be crucial for the Blues to get something from the game.
CM – Mateo Kovacic
While Denis Zakaria has looked pretty impressive, it would be a big surprise if Kovacic isn’t recalled for the match on Thursday evening.
The Croatian international is capable of keeping the ball in tight areas, whilst his mobility should help his midfield partner, Jorginho, massively.
AM – Mason Mount
After a good game against Bournemouth, the midfielder didn’t really show up versus Forest. His lack of consistency this season has been frustrating.
Mount will have to put in the hard yards against City, but his work rate will be important if the home side are to get a result.
RW – Hakim Ziyech
Even though Raheem Sterling did score at the weekend, he was pretty anonymous for the rest of the game, so this could be a good time to reintroduce Ziyech to the team.
After having an impressive World Cup for Morocco, it will be hoped that he can carry some of that form back with him to club level.
ST- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
After being one of the best players on the bench last week versus Bournemouth, Kai Havertz was pretty abject against Forest.
Potter may consider dropping the German for Aubameyang anyway, as the Gabonese striker is better suited to playing on the counter-attack; something they may have to resort to when they face City.
LW – Christian Pulisic
The American has been one of Chelsea’s most consistent threats in the final third since the World Cup so he may get his third straight start on Thursday.
Pulisic does need to show more of an end product, though, if he wants to keep his place in the starting eleven for the long term.
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