Both Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri enter Saturday’s London derby in the early stages of reshaping their respective squads.
The early-season timing of the game isn’t ideal for either man. But for Emery, one particular area of the pitch stands out as an issue – left-back.
Nacho Monreal is not match-fit. Sead Kolasinac is injured. Ainsley Maitland-Niles limped off in the first half of his attempt to deputise against Manchester City.
There has even been talk of Danny Welbeck being deployed at left-back in order to deal with the crisis. From a Chelsea perspective, Emery’s issue provides a selection dilemma for Maurizio Sarri as well.
Pedro or Willian?
In Sarri’s new-look 4-3-3, who should be deployed on the right wing in order to take maximum advantage?
Eden Hazard will surely come in on the left. Although it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Sarri switches him to the right; to put his most creative player up against a makeshift option.
So the battle looks to be a straight two-way fight. Former Barcelona man Pedro played on the right on the opening day of the season and produced a delightful finish to round off the 3-o win at Huddersfield.
Willian, who recently revealed he would not still be a Chelsea player if Antonio Conte was still the club’s manager, is the other option on the right.
The directness of Pedro, valued at £22.5m by Transfermarkt, should see him get the nod. In Sarri’s more flowing system, Hazard can cause havoc; the man on the other side must ruthlessly burst in behind and create goalscoring chances.
Willian is more of a trickster, but this one calls for more relentless running into space and directness to exploit whoever Emery puts on the left – because there will be nervousness there.
The Brazilian can come off the bench later on, but from the off, Pedro must be in the starting eleven.