Maurizio Sarri is likely to reinstate goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to the starting lineup, when Chelsea take on local rivals Fulham on Sunday.
Chelsea will be aiming to cut down the gap to the fourth spot to two points, when they face off against Fulham at Craven Cottage in matchweek 29 of the 2018-19 Premier League this weekend.
Coming on the back of an important 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur during the week, Maurizio Sarri’s men will be hoping to win back-to-back London derbies, as the race for the top-four heats up. And the fact that they have no major injury or suspension concerns ahead of the short trip to Fulham, puts them in good stead.
While there are no major injury worries, Sarri hinted that he might look to rotate his troops, given the physical exertion that his team have gone through over the past two matches. “I have no injury doubts but it is very important to value the recovery,” the Italian said in his pre-match press conference.
“On Sunday we played for 130 minutes and 95 on Wednesday, so we need to value the recovery. The players ran 15 kilometres on Sunday on average and the average of the last match was 12, so we need to consider it.”
Ahead of the game, there have been a lot of questions over whether Kepa Arrizabalaga will be reinstated to the starting lineup or not, after the Spaniard was dropped for the Spurs game, due to the controversial incident that took place in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.
And Sarri addressed the issue in his presser, providing a strong hint that the world’s most expensive keeper is set to replace Willy Caballero in goal for Sunday’s fixture. “As I said before the Kepa situation is now closed and he is our first goalkeeper, but we are very happy for Willy because now we know very well he is able play in a very difficult match.”
There are likely to be a couple of changes in the Chelsea backline heading into the London derby, with Emerson Palmieri and Andreas Christensen in line to feature from the kick-off, in place of Marcos Alonso and David Luiz respectively. Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger should hold on to their spots at the back.
N’Golo Kante has been absolutely sensational in the last few matches for Chelsea and despite playing every minute in the last two matches, the French midfield dynamo is expected to start once again on Sunday. Summer signing Jorginho too, is likely to start again as the deepest of the three midfielders for the visitors.
The third midfield slot could see a change though, with Ross Barkley set to start in place of Mateo Kovacic, despite the Real Madrid loanee putting on one of his best performances in Chelsea colours against Tottenham.
Eden Hazard looked fatigued in the Spurs fixture and could do with some rest, ahead of a busy couple of weeks for Chelsea. The Belgian could be replaced by Willian on the left flank, while teenage sensation Callum Hudson-Odoi should get a rare start on the right wing, replacing one of the goalscorers against Tottenham, Pedro. Gonzalo Higuain should continue to lead the line for Sarri’s side.