Chelsea predicted XI for first friendly: Six loanees start, centre-back makes his Blues debut
Thomas Tuchel will have plenty to tinker with when Chelsea take on Peterborough United this Saturday in their first pre-season friendly.
Stamford Bridge is the stage as Tuchel sets to unleash his very first trial team before the 2021/22 campaign kicks off.
The Blues boss has been working with some of his squad for just under a week, with several of his senior players still resting after their international commitments.
This isn’t to say he hasn’t had a plethora of talent to work with at Cobham.
Returning loanees and a handful of academy products have made up the bulk of his group, as well as a smattering of well-known faces.
There’s certainly enough to bundle together a very sturdy eleven.
Here’s our prediction for Tuchel’s XI to face Peterborough:
Goalkeeper is one of the few positions that is covered by two regulars from the previous term.
Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga have both been training with the group, so don’t be surprised if the former starts between the sticks.
In front of Mendy is where it gets interesting.
Assuming Tuchel sticks to his trusted 3-4-2-1 formation, he could go with a back-three completely made up of loanees.
On the right, Marc Guehi, who spent several excellent spells with Swansea City.
On the left, Malang Sarr, the summer signing who was instantly shipped out to Porto before even featuring for the Blues. The young defender will be making his Blues debut if picked.
In between the pair, Jake Clarke-Salter, a centre-half who played for Birmingham in successive seasons.
Again, Tuchel may well make up a third of his midfield with those who were sent away by Chelsea in 2020/21.
David Zappacosta is well accustomed to playing wing-back, having done so recently with Genoa.
He can begin on the left, with Dujon Sterling featuring on the right.
Sterling has apparently been impressing Tuchel whenever he’s been promoted from the Under-21s.
Danny Drinkwater and Ruben Loftus-Cheek combine for a slightly unfamiliar double pivot, but one with great experience and ability.
Both are, unsurprisingly, coming back from respective loans (Drinkwater at Kasimpasa, Loftus-Cheek at Fulham).
The front line has a much more recognisable look to it.
Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, and Hakim Ziyech may not have actually played much football as a trio, but they’ve certainly been involved with Chelsea recently.
Not so much Abraham, who hasn’t started a competitive game since February.
However, the 23-year-old has a great opportunity to show Tuchel he is worthy of the fabled no.9 jersey.