27-year-old starts at left-wing back with big Lukaku decision made: Chelsea predicted XI vs Spurs
Thomas Tuchel has some sizeable team decisions to make before Chelsea take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup semi-final.
The overriding question is will Romelu Lukaku return to the fold, immediately after being left out of the Liverpool tie?
Other queries should be aimed at the fitness of his soldiers.
How many of them can realistically re-energise just days after relinquishing all their energy to encounter the Reds?
We have attempted to answer these enquiries, and some others, in our predicted Blues XI to face Spurs below:
Arguably the simplest selection Tuchel will have to make is bringing Kepa Arrizabalaga back into the fold.
Not only is he the designated cup goalkeeper, but Edouard Mendy’s plane has also probably already landed ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.
In front of the Spaniard, a back three consisting of Malang Sarr, Antonio Rudiger and the newly-contracted Thiago Silva.
Sarr is the only change from the defence who battled Liverpool, due to Trevoh Chalobah’s injury.
Chelsea might be able to reshuffle their entire midfield, thanks to the welcome return of some friendly faces.
Jorginho was a substitute on the weekend, so should be reinstalled instantly as one of the central patrollers.
Next to him, the recovered Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has missed the past five fixtures because of injury and covid.
Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante earn a well-deserved break following their endeavours on Sunday.
Both Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are rested as the Spanish wing-back duo, allowing fellow compatriot Saul Niguez a stab at the spotlight.
The 27-year-old’s best performances for the Blues have arguably arrived in this competition, so it will be interesting to see how he fairs on such a grand occasion.
On the opposite flank, Callum Hudson-Odoi features in a position where he really does not belong.
Now for the answer you’ve all been waiting for…Lukaku starts!
Realistically, how long could the striker’s isolation really last? A few more days? A month?
Differences aside, Tuchel needs the number nine and the number nine needs minutes to get his goal tally up.
He takes the place of Christian Pulisic in attack, whilst Mason Mount makes way for Hakim Ziyech.
Chelsea predicted XI vs Spurs: Kepa; Sarr, Silva, Rudiger; Saul, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi; Ziyech, Lukaku, Havertz