Putting Saturday to the back of their minds Chelsea can look forward to the return of Champions League football on Wednesday. Roma are the opponents in the fixture that takes place at Stamford Bridge.
With hamstring injuries becoming more popular than turkey`s at Christmas, team selection for Antonio Conte, is not too difficult. I seem to recall writing something similar at the start of the season. The fact is, without giving Roma manager, Eusebio di Francesco, a heads up, Chelsea`s European squad is somewhat depleted.
Charly Musonda Jr
Conte has indicated that Morata will be fit to play, which given his European experience will be a bonus. That list of players numbers 21, they are taken from the UEFA Champions League website.
A closer look at the squad and does not make great reading when you try to pick the starting XI. For a start there a three goalkeepers only one will play, that being, Tibo Courtois. That leaves Conte to find ten players from the remaining eighteen to compete in the world`s premier club competition. Unfortunately for them, the development players, Jake Clarke-Salter, Kyle Scott, Kenedy, and the impatient Charly Musonda are unlikely to feature in the starting XI.
That still leaves Conte with ten players to find from fourteen. Assuming Alvaro Morata is fit to play it`s almost certain Michy Batshuayi will be doing some serious bench-warming. The manager now has to choose nine players from the remaining twelve. Looking at the list who get`s binned?
On current form one casualty is likely to be Willian, who has underperformed in the extreme this season. There`s something not quite right with the Brazilian this season and he needs removing from the limelight for the time being.
Conte has to pick two of the remaining eleven to sit the game out. By now the question comes down to formations, stick with the favoured 3-4-3 or revert to a more traditional 4-4-2. Assuming he sticks with his captain, Gary Cahill will feature. Other certain starters are
Conte is now left with choosing three of the remaining five. The big question is, whether to play David Luiz in defence or midfield. Conte sees the Brazilian as a defender, so he`s most likely to start alongside Cahill and Azpilicueta. The remaining two places are in between the two wing-backs.
Chelsea clearly missed N`golo Kante against Palace, but, nonetheless should still have had enough to beat them. Of the players left, there are only two genuine midfielders. They played Saturday, and are Tiemoue Bakayoko who scored at the weekend and Cesc Fabregas.
Substitutes are set to be Willy Caballero, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Willian and Michy Batshuayi. Also on the bench will be the four development players.
Should Conte prefer to go with a 4-4-2 or a variation of it, the defence could line up Antonio Rudiger, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, and Cesar Azpilicueta, Midfield, Marcos Alonso, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, and Pedro. The front two option being Eden Hazard playing just off Alvaro Morata.
The manager will probably stick to the favoured 3-4-3. Whichever option Conte goes with, it will be good to, hopefully, forget the nightmare that occurred at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.