Antonio Conte has left out Cesc Fabregas for Chelsea’s Premier League opener against West Ham and has opted to hand former Leicester midfielder N’Golo Kante his club debut.
Chelsea have named a relatively strong squad for their league opener against West Ham. Thibaut Courtois starts in goal with a back four of Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta ahead of him. In midfield, Nemanja Matic has been given the nod to start and will play alongside N’Golo Kante. Many believed that Kante would be the holding midfielder for this contest, but by the looks of things, Antonio Conte hopes to bring the best out of him by deploying him in a box-to-box position.
Further ahead, an attacking midfield trio of Willian, Oscar and Eden Hazard is bound to give the West Ham defence a torrid time in dealing with their pace and tenacity. Up front, Spain international Diego Costa will be hoping to hit the ground running from day one, and put the doom of last season behind him. New signing Michy Batshuayi is expected to play a cameo and has been named among the substitutes.
Team to face West Ham: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, JT (c), Azpi; Kante; Willian, Matic, Oscar, Hazard; Costa. https://t.co/1ks2aJA2qP
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 15, 2016
For the Hammers, manager Slaven Bilic has handed debuts to three of his side’s new arrivals. Club record-signing Andre Ayew has been deployed on the right flank, while Hasteban Nordtveit and Arthur Masuaku will be taking up defensive positions. A centre-back pairing of Winston Reid and James Collins has been employed to deal with the attacking threat of Costa and Hazard.
Further up the pitch, Dimitri Payet has been rested and Enner Valencia is starting in his left-wing position. Captain Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyaté will be stationed at the heart of midfield and will be constantly on their toes due to the pace and physicality of Kante. England’s talismanic striker Andy Carroll leads the line for West Ham, hoping to give them a stunning away victory against Chelsea.
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) August 15, 2016