Chelsea will be hoping to return to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday at Stamford Bridge after Wednesday’s woeful trip to Bournemouth.
On the opening day of the season, Maurizio Sarri kick-started his career as a manager in this division with a 3-0 victory over tomorrow’s opponents Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Since then, the Terriers’ season has continued to plummet, as they currently sit at the foot of the table, 12 points off safety and now with Jan Siewert replacing David Wagner at the helm.
Victory for the Blues gives them a chance of moving back into the league’s top four spots, having slipped down to fifth following successive away losses to Arsenal and Bournemouth.
Here is who we think will start for the Blues in their must-win clash against the league’s bottom side.
Predicted line-up: (4-3-3) Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz, Marcos Alonso; N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic; Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Eden Hazard
Predicted substitutes: Willy Caballero, Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Gonzalo Higuain
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s Chelsea debut ended immaculately six months ago as he managed a maiden clean sheet against Huddersfield, a perfect record he will want to build on tomorrow.
The back four of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso started together in the reverse fixture earlier this season and after Sarri’s plan to start Emerson against Bournemouth proved to backfire, Alonso could be recalled, recreating the defensive force that has proved to work together regularly this season.
With Ross Barkley struggling for form and Ruben Loftus-Cheek yet to start to a league game since December having recently recovered from injury, Mateo Kovacic may keep his place on the left side of the three-man midfield, playing alongside the ever-present duo of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho.
After two matches for the Blues where he has been yet to impress, a lack of match sharpness for Gonzalo Higuain could spark a re-think from Sarri, and after a strong performance against Tottenham Hotspur last month, Olivier Giroud could be recalled, spearheading the attack, with Pedro and Eden Hazard starting either side of him.
Sarri will be desperate to see his side bounce back after two dismally disappointing league outings and a defeat to Huddersfield would be an all-time low for Sarri and the contrasting faith that the Blues fans currently have in him.
Score prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Huddersfield Town