Graham Potter selects new-look defence and £50m player returns to start: Chelsea predicted XI vs Salzburg

Graham Potter is now just over 24 hours away from taking charge of his first match as the new Chelsea head coach.

The Chelsea Chronicle has tackled the very difficult task of the predicted Blues line-up that Potter will select on Wednesday night vs Red Bull Salzburg.

Chelsea are currently preparing to host Austrian champions Salzburg tomorrow night in the Champions League group stages, which is the club’s final match before the international break.

It’s the start of a new era at Stamford Bridge following the sacking of popular manager Thomas Tuchel.

His successor Graham Potter is no stranger to a three at the back system, so we are predicting he doesn’t go too outside the box during his first game in charge at a new club. After all, he’s only had a few days working with a new squad of players.

Here is the predicted Blues line-up against Salzburg in a 3-4-1-2 shape:

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

GK and defence

It’s been confirmed that Edouard Mendy is ruled out this week through injury, so surely that means goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will get an early opportunity into the Potter reign to show his worth. Perhaps under new management he can try regain the number one position in-between the sticks.

It’s a new-look combination we are predicting as part of a back three.

The prediction is veteran Thiago Silva at the heart of a back three, who must be a dream player for any manager. He could be flanked by summer signings Wesley Fofana and Marc Cucurella to complete a new and exciting defence.

That would mean Kalidou Koulibaly and Cesar Azpilicueta sit this one out on the bench, but it’s very much a blank canvas so predictions are difficult.

Surely, Cucurella’s name will be on that starting XI paper due to his connection with Potter last at Brighton. The question is whether he starts as a left-sided centre-back or a wing-back, though.

Midfield

We are predicting England pair Reece James and Ben Chilwell get the nod to start against Sazlburg as the attack-minded wing-backs.

There’s only been brief moments so far this season of Cucurella and Chilwell on the pitch together, but it’s a really exciting left-hand side you can guess Potter wants to try out.

The midfield pivot in this side is made up of experienced duo Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, leaving the likes of Conor Gallagher and Ruben Loftus-Cheek as options on the bench.

It would be a return for £50million Blues player Jorginho, who didn’t start either of Tuchel’s final two games in charge.

Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Attack

This feels like picking names from a hat when guessing the forward combination.

We are predicting Mason Mount, who’s usually loved by managers, to start in a No.10 position.

The XI is completed by a forward pairing of Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who are two huge profiles that Potter now gets to work with.

However, Armando Broja looks like a striker that could suit the system. Meanwhile, the likes of Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech will be desperate to play this week.

Let’s wait and see who’s done enough to impress Potter in the few training sessions so far.

Predicted Chelsea line-up vs Salzburg

Kepa
Fofana Silva Cucurella
James Kovacic Jorginho Chilwell
Mount
Sterling Aubameyang

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A sports journalist who graduated from Staffordshire University in 2016 and is a Chelsea supporter. Loves anything football or cricket related when it comes to England.