Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is likely to reverse most of the 10 changes that he made on Thursday when the Blues take on Fulham tomorrow.
Sarri played a second-string side during Chelsea’s 4-0 victory over PAOK Salonika at Stamford Bridge in the Europa League, with only Kepa Arrizabalaga keeping his place in the side.
Hoping to prevent the Blues from returning to winning ways in the top-flight are a Cottagers side now managed by one of the Blues’ former bosses, Claudio Ranieri, who spent four seasons at the helm between 2000 and 2004.
In the last 36 meetings between the two sides, Chelsea have lost just once in all competitions.
Here is who are we predicting will start for Sarri’s side in his first ever local derby against Fulham.
Predicted line-up: (4-3-3) Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso; N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic; Willian, Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard
Predicted substitutes: Willy Caballero, Gary Cahill, Emerson, Cesc Fabregas, Ross Barkley, Pedro, Olivier Giroud
Kepa Arrizabalaga kept his 10th clean sheet for Chelsea against PAOK, despite making just his 18th appearance for the club. We are predicting that Kepa will be the only man to keep his place in the side from Thursday’s win.
After sustaining an injury during the victory two days ago, Davide Zappacosta’s place at right-back looks to return to vice-captain, Cesar Azpilicueta.
Although the duo of David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger severely struggled to deal with Tottenham Hotspur’s attacking onslaught last week, they may both return in the middle of defence ahead of Gary Cahill and Andreas Christensen.
Marcos Alonso’s last career appearance against Fulham came during his time with Bolton Wanderers in January 2014, where they beat Fulham 1-0. He is likely to continue his role as Sarri’s first-choice left-back, with Emerson giving him some much-needed rest bite on Thursday.
Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic were all spared for the win over PAOK and could all replace Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley respectively in midfield.
Despite the front three of Pedro, Olivier Giroud and Callum Hudson-Odoi all being involved in the goals in midweek, it is likely that all three of them will lose their starting places to Willian, Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard.
Chelsea’s win over a hapless PAOK showed dominance and swagger, two traits they will want to emulate against their neighbours on Sunday and whilst Ranieri’s side earned a big victory over Southampton last weekend, a trip to Chelsea may be a challenge too big and too soon for Fulham.
Score prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Fulham