With the lottery that is the penalty shootout denying Chelsea of winning the Carabao Cup on Sunday, Maurizio Sarri’s side must now turn their attention to securing qualification into next year’s Champions League.
That quest continues tomorrow evening when they host Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.
The two sides have already faced each other three times in all competitions this term, with the Blues’ only victory coming at Stamford Bridge last month in the competition they so nearly won two days ago.
As Sarri ponders how best to take down Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs for the second time in 2019, we predict who will start for the hosts in Wednesday’s all-London affair.
Predicted line-up: (4-3-3) Willy Caballero; Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz, Emerson; N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ross Barkley; Willian, Gonzalo Higuain, Eden Hazard
Predicted substitutes: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Pedro, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olivier Giroud
Sunday’s defeat to Manchester City was overshadowed after Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted late on and with Sarri wanting to make it clear that the club-record signing’s actions were not acceptable, Kepa could miss out on a starting top-flight place for the first time this season, where Willy Caballero could be in line to make his first league appearance since the Blues beat Huddersfield Town in May.
Making the most of recent opportunities, Italian international Emerson has proved to be in Sarri’s plans, which may seem detrimental to Marcos Alonso’s long-term future. Emerson could keep his spot at left-back, with vice-captain Cesar Azpilicueta starting on the right and Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz continuing their partnership at centre-back.
They may have lost the cup final, but performance wise, Chelsea impressed in midfield, meaning Jorginho could again be joined by N’Golo Kante and Ross Barkley in the three-man midfield.
Against City, Eden Hazard centred a fluid front three, with Willian and Pedro starting either side of him. However, the Belgian could return to his more natural role on the left-wing, meaning Gonzalo Higuain could spearhead the attack in place of Pedro.
Spurs have started to get their star players back from injury, including 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, whose return will make this test even tougher for the Blues than it will already be.
Score prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur