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Well, we’ve seen the future and the future is now, but of course, we know it probably isn’t in the mind of Maurizio Sarri. The use of Callum Hudson-Odoi and perhaps more significantly, given his age, Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the game against Brighton bodes well down the line for Chelsea.
It’s crucial that those two remain at the club regardless of the impending transfer embargo. With a potential ten games remaining Sarri, despite his critics, may well still get Chelsea into next season’s Champions League. He may even get himself that first coveted trophy as a football manager.
Indeed, his focus of attention ought to be towards picking up the Europa League rather than the more competitive 4th placed spot in the Premier League. It worked for Jose Mourinho last season for Manchester United and there’s no reason for it not to bring Sarri his first competition win.
The use of the ‘so-called kids’ – they’re not really kids, kids go to the park, and school – on Wednesday gave Chelsea an impetus that has been missing on the pitch throughout the season. If only Chelsea had a manager that allowed them the freedom to deliver what they themselves believe they can.
West Ham United are the visitors to the Bridge on Monday evening and a win will return the Blues to the top four. Despite a fractious season, the perception amongst some of the fan base that it’s been a poor one may be a tad wide of the mark. After the last game, Sarri’s selection will be an interesting one.
Goalkeeper – Of course, Kepa Arrizabalaga will be playing in goal. Whilst the team in front of him have struggled to a degree he has done all he has needed to do to retain his place as the clubs number one. Aside from his antics at Wembley, his first season in London has been uneventful.
Defence – We saw Andreas Christensen play last time out but the probability is that he’ll be moved back to the bench to be replaced by Antonio Rudiger. Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz did the required job against Brighton and the question remains over who is better between Emerson and Marcos Alonso. For some reason the more vociferous Chelsea supporters favour Emerson. Personally, I’m not sure there’s too much between them. Alonso picked up a slight hamstring problem in training, so may miss out.
Midfield – The mere fact that Chelsea play again on Thursday will inevitably lead to some form of rotation. Mateo Kovacic missed out on the starting XI against the Seagulls and will surely start this time out, in place of who is the question. Ruben Loftus-Cheek should start every game for me, however, he is still suffering from a back problem so will most likely be rested. N’golo Kante could probably play three games a week, so no problem there. With that game in Prague being so crucial and Jorginho so integral to his system, Ross Barkley will get a run-out against the Hammers.
Attack – Whilst the fans want to see the youngsters, Sarri will be mindful of giving game time to the more senior members of the squad. Eden Hazard has so often missed out on a Europa League spot, so may get the nod for a start in the Premier League over the Euro competition. Pedro, like Alonso, is suffering a slight knock, as a result, Willian will get the go-ahead for action over Callum Husdon-Odoi. As far out-and-out strikers go, Gonzalo Higuain has been less than impressive – why should we be surprised at that? – Olivier Giroud remains Chelsea’s best option for goals. He knows the league and he’s a proven goalscorer.
Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Emerson, Kovacic, Kante, Barkley, Hazard, Willian, Giroud
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