Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will be sweating over the fitness of Kepa Arrizabalaga ahead of the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.
Chelsea will be hoping to win the Carabao Cup for the sixth time when they take on Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday evening. Ahead of the biggest game of his stint with the Blues, however, Maurizio Sarri has a pressing injury concern hampering his preparations for the cup tie.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is struggling to shake off a minor hamstring injury that forced him to miss the Europa League game against Malmo on Thursday. The Chelsea boss though, did not provide any update on the Spaniard, who is reportedly a major doubt for the game.
If fit, Kepa will certainly start, but as things stand, it looks like former Manchester City custodian Willy Caballero might take his place between the posts. Meanwhile, during his pre-match press conference, Sarri talked about decreasing the work load in training in the build-up to the Carabao Cup final.
“I don’t want to press them, I want to keep their minds very free. We will prepare for the match only on Saturday, because I didn’t like our minds in the first 30 minutes. I want to see something more free. We prepare for the match in 60 minutes, no more. The quantity is not important.”
Back to Sarri’s team selection, the defensive line should see a slight shuffle, with David Luiz likely to replace Andreas Christensen at the heart of the Chelsea defence, with Antonio Rudiger being his partner. Cesar Azpilicueta and Emerson Palmieri should continue to be the two full-backs, with the latter keeping the underperforming Marcos Alonso out of the side.
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are automatic selections in the Chelsea midfield, even though the latter has been well below his best in recent weeks. The final spot in the middle of the park will be a toss-up between Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic for the umpteenth time.
Barkley was disastrous in Chelsea’s 6-0 loss to Manchester City a couple of weeks ago, but was much improved against Malmo on Thursday. The Englishman should thus, get the nod, and a chance to make amends.
Up ahead, Eden Hazard and Gonzalo Higuain are certain starters, with Willian, Callum Hudson-Odoi and the fully recovered Pedro (from a stomach bug) vying for the final spot in the side. Hudson-Odoi made a case for himself against Malmo, but Willian is likely to start, with the Englishman being an option off the bench.