Tuchel makes six changes as £50m player drops out, Saul returns to start: Chelsea predicted XI v Plymouth
Chelsea are currently gearing towards this weekend’s FA Cup tie against League One opposition Plymouth Argyle.
Chelsea breezed past non-league Chesterfield 5-1 in the third round, but Saturday’s match should be a step up against a Plymouth side sat seventh in League One.
Thomas Tuchel’s squad will travel off to the United Arab Emirates after this weekend’s contest to compete in the Club World Cup. First of all, they’ve got to be on the ball to avoid what would be a major FA Cup upset.
The Chelsea Chronicle has predicted the starting line-up that Tuchel will select at home to Plymouth in Saturday’s 12:30 kick-off. This includes six changes from the starting XI the last time the Blues were in action before the winter break, which was in a 2-0 Premier League win against Tottenham.
Chelsea back three
These predictions are getting harder every game due to the fact Tuchel’s showing more and more flexibility in his formations.
It could be a return to the trusted back three system in a couple of days time, though, with the first change seeing Marcus Bettinelli replace Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal. Meanwhile, the club’s number one goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has reached the AFCON final with his country Senegal.
Malang Sarr, Andreas Christensen and Trevoh Chalobah are the starting centre-backs in this predicted side, with the former the only survivor from the Spurs victory. This means experienced duo Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva drop out.
Christensen and Sarr have both been pictured in full training this week after recent absences, so a cup fixture against lower league opposition may be an ideal time to reintroduce them.
Another three changes in midfield
Callum Hudson-Odoi continues in this weekend’s line-up but in a wing-back position.
First of all, Marcos Alonso returns to the team in place of club captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
Secondly, £50million central midfielder Jorginho drops out to be replaced by teammate Saul Niguez. It’s been noticeable how much Saul’s improved lately, so he could start in the centre of the park trying to control the tempo.
Finally, the sixth and final change has Ruben Loftus-Cheek promoted to the side in place of Mateo Kovacic.
With so many vital games coming up in February, it’ll be no surprise to see Chelsea not risk the likes of Jorginho, Kovacic and N’Golo Kante in the Plymouth tie.
The bench is going to be star-studded in case things go wrong, though.
Attack ready to impress
It’s the same trio of Romelu Lukaku, Hakim Ziyech and Mason Mount starting again this weekend, albeit the latter is pushed into a more advanced role in this change of system.
Ziyech needs to try keep up the momentum he had before a small break.
For Lukaku, it would be another opportunity to try get some goals for confidence against an opponent that are most likely to have little possession at Stamford Bridge.
Chalobah Christensen Sarr
Hudson-Odoi Loftus-Cheek Saul Alonso
Ziyech Lukaku Mount
IN: Bettinelli, Chalobah, Christensen, Alonso, Loftus-Cheek, Saul
OUT: Kepa, Rudiger, Silva, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic