Eden Hazard is unlikely to reprise the False Nine role when Chelsea welcome Tottenham to Stamford Bridge in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg tie.
Chelsea will be hoping to script a memorable comeback tale when they play hosts to Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge for the second leg of their semi-final tie of the Carabao Cup on Thursday night. And, while the results might not have been satisfactory of late, Maurizio Sarri will be buoyed by the fact that he almost has a clean bill of health to boast of.
Their are no casualties in the goalkeeping department and defence, meaning the usual suspects should start, despite the worrying form of one or two players. While Kepa Arrizabalaga should man the Chelsea goal, the quartet of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso should form the back four.
The two Chelsea absentees are midfielders, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) and Marco van Ginkel (ACL) still serving time in the treatment room. For now, Sarri’s viable options are N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley and Jorginho.
While Jorginho and Kante remain certain starters, the final midfield spot continues to be a toss-up between Barkley and Kovacic, with the former likely to get the nod this time around. In attack, Sarri has plenty of options at his disposal, although his comments during his pre-match press conference suggest Alvaro Morata might not be one anymore, ahead of his departure.
With Gonzalo Higuain’s transfer not completed on time, Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard are the options to lead the line against Tottenham, although the Chelsea boss did talk up the Argentinean striker ahead of the completion of his move.
“We are hoping he will start scoring straightaway for us but there is more to his game than goals. For sure he is one of the best strikers in my career, he has the right experience to play here. He wants to win all the time, in any situation.”
Sarri also iterated why it is important for Hazard to now become a leader within the first-team setup, as he said, “I don’t know. At this moment he is more an individual player than a leader. He’s very important of course as he’s a great player and he can always win the match in two minutes, sometimes in one minute, but at the moment he’s not a leader.”
“He’s a great player, one of the best in the world. I think he said (in a recent interview) coaches told him he needs to do more. I think he has to do more because the potential is higher than the performances. He has to respect himself firstly, he has to do more.”
Hazard will definitely start on Thursday, albeit not in the False Nine role, meaning Giroud should be the central striker for Chelsea against Tottenham. The final spot in the side will be a toss-up between Pedro, Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi, with Pedro likely to get the nod.