Chelsea travel to last season’s Premier League winners Manchester City on Saturday.
Thomas Tuchel insisted he is ‘not a fanboy’ of his opposite manager Pep Guardiola before the sides’ first meeting of the season. When Chelsea hosted City in September the Blues led the early league table. However, a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge began the swing which sees City go into the weekend ten points clear of their upcoming visitors.
Here’s the lineup Tuchel may deploy to reduce the gap up to top spot.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – The much maligned keeper has kept three clean sheets on the spin since stepping in for the AFCON-bound Edouard Mendy,
Andreas Christensen (CB) – In a team that has 16 unique top flight scorers (a joint-high across Europe’s top five leagues) Christensen sticks out with zero Premier League goals throughout his entire career.
Thiago SIlva (CB) – Chelsea have ensured that the wise old head which effortlessly breezes through most matches will be with the squad for his 38th birthday next season.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – Despite lining up at centre back, only the club’s top scorer this term has taken more Premier League shots than the buccaneering German (who has two league goals to his name).
Cesar Azpilicueta (RWB) – Part of the glut of defensive personnel mulling over a contract extension, Azpilicueta has been decidedly non-comital regarding his future at the club he captains.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – Arguably his greatest ever performance in a Chelsea shirt (from a lengthy list of contenders) came against Manchester City in last season’s Champions League final, an outing which Arsene Wenger, speaking for every neutral viewer, described as ‘unbelievable’.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – The Austria-born Croatia international has scored more Premier League goals in ten starts this season (two) than he did across his previous 90 appearances in the competition.
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – Afforded a rare starting spot on the bench for the midweek Carabao Cup cruise past Tottenham with his involvement on Saturday surely in mind.
Hakim Ziyech (RW) – A shock absentee from Morocco’s AFCON squad is a considerable loss for the Atlas Lions but a welcome offensive alternative for Chelsea.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – One of the nuggets from Lukaku’s hysteria-inducing interview was that he turned down an approach from Manchester City in the summer of 2020 ‘which was higher than Chelsea’s’.
Mason Mount (LW) – With seven Premier League goal involvements across December, Chelsea’s top scorer finished the calendar year on a high.