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Combine that with Fulham’s fading but still mathematically possible escape from relegation, our absolute need to keep ahead of the chasing pack in fourth place, and mounting fatigue within the squad, and the recipe for potential disappointment gets even more potent.
We saw with the recent nil-all draw against Brighton how distractions (and they don’t always have to be bad) can have a massive impact on performance.
Mateo Kovačić, our only injury concern, is still unlikely to be back just yet from his hamstring injury, which limits our options for rest and rotation. Jorginho has started eight in a row, the longest active streak in the squad, with Mason Mount and Antonio Rüdiger close behind with seven. Ben Chilwell has started six of seven while both Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kanté are at four in five, which is a concern these days.
As usual, the choice of formation couldn’t have been more clear cut from the WAGNH community with the 3-4-3 easily disposing of the 4-2-3-1 (7%) and 4-3-3 (6%). An argument could be made for Kepa Arrizabalaga (26%) over Édouard Mendy, but the majority picked the safer route by going with the latter.
Having learned of the doubtful status for Antonio Rüdiger (42%) halfway through the voting, César Azpilicueta only narrowly edges him out to get the nod alongside more clear-cut choices Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma. Thiago Silva (25%) gets a well-deserved rest.
N’Golo Kanté (45%) also gets a rest, but there is no such luxury for Jorginho. He partners young Billy Gilmour trying to stake a claim in the team for the future, as Mateo Kovačić remains out. On the wings, Marcos Alonso gets the nod ahead of Ben Chilwell (22%) but Reece James keeps his spot.
Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy is expected to start between the sticks once again for Chelsea this weekend so Kepa Arrizabalaga will remain on the bench.
Defence: Antonio Rudiger has been ruled out of the Fulham game this weekend after picking up a knock during the closing stages of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in midweek.