Tuchel reverts to a back four and hands 26-year-old first start since December: Chelsea predicted XI vs Luton

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea squad have hardly been afforded anytime to catch breath ahead of their FA Cup fifth-round fixture against Luton Town.

All of their energy was taken up on Sunday, as they went toe-to-toe with Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.

After two hours of exhilarating, entertaining football, the tie was decided by penalties.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, tasked with being Chelsea’s hero, turned to the villain instead when he missed the ultimately decisive spot-kick.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

There will certainly be some weary limbs walking around Cobham right now, as they try to reinvigorate themselves for Wednesday night’s trip to Luton.

Fortunately for Tuchel, he can replace several of those exhausted bodies with fresher minds.

Here’s how we expect the Blues to line up tomorrow:

Defence  

Despite his costly error at Wembley, Kepa should keep up his cup run between the sticks.

A solid performance, and possibly a penalty save, will be high on the Spaniard’s agenda.

In front of the guilty goalkeeper, we think Tuchel may well revert to a back four, due to the personnel available.

Thiago Silva lasted the entire 120 minutes in the national team stadium, so his 37-year-old legs need a rest.

Photo by Federico Maranesi /MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The younger duo of Antonio Rudiger and Trevoh Chalobah are not so lucky, as they make up the central pairing.

Reece James made his long-awaited return from injury on the weekend, meaning the right-back slot is his for the taking, especially as Cesar Azpilicueta might miss the match through injury.

Malang Sarr steps in at left-back, aiming to emulate a similar display in that position like the Carabao Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

Midfield   

With Azpilicueta potentially on the treatment table and Marcos Alonso allowed to put his feet up, Tuchel could go with a midfield three.

N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic faced Liverpool, which should mean a place on the substitute’s bench or in the stands at Luton.

Replacing these two will probably be Jorginho and Saul Niguez, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek making up the remaining spot.

The 26-year-old hasn’t started a game since the 1-1 draw with Everton in the middle of December due to numerous absences through injury or illness.  

Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Attack

Callum Hudson-Odoi made Chelsea’s bench versus Liverpool, following a minor layoff, therefore looks set to take on Luton.

Romelu Lukaku had one of his better afternoons in the Carabao Cup finale after entering the scene late in the second half, hence we feel he deserves a shot from the first whistle.

Timo Werner makes up the front line, leaving Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic to recover their aching ankles.

Chelsea predicted XI: Kepa; Sarr, Chalobah, Rudiger, James; Saul, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Lukaku, Werner

Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.