Maurizio Sarri is expected to field his strongest possible side for Sunday’s London derby with Crystal Palace.
He made eight changes for the Blues’ 3-2 victory over Derby County in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, which gave several fringe players an opportunity in the first-team.
The likes of Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso, who have started in all 10 of the Blues’ league matches, were not included in the matchday squad against the Rams.
Here are the eight changes we are expecting to see in Sarri’s side for tomorrow’s meeting.
Predicted team: (4-3-3) Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso; N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ross Barkley; Pedro, Alvaro Morata, Willian
Predicted substitutes: Willy Caballero, Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud
Kepa Arrizabalaga has been imperative to Chelsea’s 15-match unbeaten start to the season, keeping clean sheets in seven of his 13 appearances. The 24-year-old has struggled to keep clean sheets at home, conceding in five of his seven matches at Stamford Bridge, a record he will want to improve on Sunday.
Although confirming Cesar Azpilicueta is officially the club’s vice-captain, Sarri is unlikely to start Gary Cahill at centre-back, leaving Azpilicueta with the armband for the 12th time this season.
A poor performance from Cahill and Andreas Christensen in midweek could mean that David Luiz and Rudiger are almost certain to return to sure up the back-line.
Completing the backline is likely to be Marcos Alonso, one of five Chelsea players yet to have missed a Premier League minute this term.
N’Golo Kante was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up but added the necessary quality against Frank Lampard’s side earlier this week. Rests for Jorginho and Ross Barkley in that match were likely to be in preparation for the visit of the Eagles to play alongside the French World Cup winner.
Pedro’s return to action could see him start on the left-wing, with the ever-present Willian on the right side. Eden Hazard has also returned to training, but Sarri confirmed he is likely to only feature for up to 45 minutes, should he feature against Roy Hodgson’s side, meaning a starting place likely to be out of the question.
Olivier Giroud may still be injured for the tie against a side he has already scored four career goals against, meaning Alvaro Morata is in line for a third consecutive start.
The last three meetings between these sides have ended 2-1, and with Chelsea’s leaky defence at home combined with Palace’s knack for scoring on the road could mean that his tie could be a close one.
Score prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace