Chelsea are playing Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup, with an exciting and interesting lineup from Maurizio Sarri:
Starting from the back, with Azpilicueta starting once again for the Blues with Zappacosta not being in the squad, it is clear that Zappacosta could be moving away from Chelsea in January, and the possibility of calling back academy star Reece James who is currently on loan at Wigan.
Christensen starts another game for Chelsea and after his last great performance vs Tottenham at Wembley we should be expecting more gametime from the young centre-back. However, rumours were emerging this morning that Luiz was ready to sign a one year extension to his contract, which may eventually lead to an unahppy Christensen.
Alonso starting is convincing to Chelsea fans as this may be the beginning of Emerson getting more opportunities at the top level in the important matches, with Bournemouth away coming up later on in a couple of days. Chelsea fans have been crying out for the Italian for quite a long time, and Palmieri certainly deserves it with his perforamce vs Tottenham in the Carabao Cup.
This could be the first time where we are seeing Ampadu starting in the ‘regista’ role as the Jorginho backup, a position which he has similarly played for Wales (for Wales he plays more as a CDM but we know Ethan contains a brilliant passing range). Kovacic and Barkley starting give us the strength in the midfield, and not rushing Loftus-Cheek back suggests he could return to the starting lineup against Bournemouth.
The front three is certainly the most interesting part of the lineup. Hudson-Odoi who has been reported to have handed in a transfer request, is starting for Chelsea. Him being in the squad is certainly a good start for Chelsea trying to keep him at the club, and his body language in today’s’ match will surely show whether he really wants to stay at this club or move on.
Higuain gets his debut for the club, a chance for him to prove to Chelsea fans that he could be a very good striker, despite being ‘past his best’. At what minute Higuain is substituted could show whether he will start on Wednesday and his fitness levels at the moment. Willian starting on the right suggests that Pedro may have taken over him in the starting lineup for the bigger matches, with our front three against Bournemouth likely to be ‘Hazard, Higuain, Pedro.’
Things to look out for today: Hudson-Odoi’s body language, Higuain’s debut, Ampadu as the regista role.
Written by @acparee