Maurizio Sarri has no injury concern whatsoever as Chelsea prepare to host Manchester City in the marquee tie of Gameweek 16 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea will have a chance to close the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City and get some way back into the title picture, when they welcome the champions to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
The Blues’ early season form has waned off, which has reflected in the changes in the starting lineup of late as well. Sarri had been averse to making many shuffles to his preferred eleven in the first couple of months, but that has not been the case lately.
On Saturday though, the Chelsea boss is likely to name the strongest eleven, with only a couple of bones of contention bothering him. The pleasing part about his preparations for the weekend though, is that Sarri, as he confirmed during his pre-match press conference, has a clean bill of health to boast, which is ever so crucial in such a busy phase.
“At the moment we have no serious injuries, I think every player will be able to play but of course I have to see the last training session.”
Kepa Arrizabalaga is ever present in the Premier League for Chelsea. And, the most expensive goalkeeper in the world should start in goal against Manchester City. The back four should see one change, with David Luiz replacing Andreas Christensen, who did not impress much in the midweek loss to Wolves.
Antonio Rudiger should partner Luiz at the heart of the Chelsea defence, with Cesar Azpilicueta being the right-back. Marcos Alonso has been a mainstay on the left side of the defence, and Sarri has hinted that the Spaniard is likely to start even though he has played almost every game in a busy December.
“He didn’t play well against Fulham, he played better in the first half at Wolves and had a difficult second half. I need to understand because for me he’s not tired. I have to see the last training session. Of course Emerson is a good option. I have to consider some details. For example, without Alonso we could have problems at set-pieces so I have to consider everything.”
Meanwhile, Jorginho should return to the starting lineup after being rested against Wolves. N’Golo Kante is likely to keep his place in the midfield three, despite his indifferent form in recent weeks, another topic that Sarri was quizzed upon in his press conference, with the Chelsea boss putting his faith in the Frenchman.
“The problems are only the results. When we won the position of N’Golo was good. At this moment we are not winning so it’s normal (for people to think) players are playing badly or in the wrong position. I explained why Kante usually plays in that position. I have my opinion, I can understand if someone doesn’t agree but I’ve explained why.”
The final spot in midfield is expected to be taken up Mateo Kovacic, who is another player who needs to regain his early season form. Up ahead in attack, Eden Hazard is a certain starter, while Pedro should replace Willian following the Brazilian’s poor performance against Wolves. Olivier Giroud should lead the line for Chelsea against Manchester City, replacing the underperforming Alvaro Morata.