Maurizio Sarri is expected to recall star winger Eden Hazard to the starting lineup when Chelsea welcome Watford at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea will be eager to return to winning ways when they play hosts to Watford in Sunday’s lunch-time kick-off, especially with third spot on the Premier League table up for grabs. And, Maurizio Sarri does not have any fresh injury concerns heading into this weekend’s clash.
The goalkeeping department is at full-strength, and considering the importance of the match, it is hard to look beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga as the man to start between the sticks against Watford. In front of him, there could be one shuffle in order.
Emerson Palmieri was not quite at his best against Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday. With Sarri constantly rotating him and Marcos Alonso on a game-to-game basis anyway, the Spaniard is in line to return to the starting lineup.
There should not be any other changes in the back four, with Cesar Azpilicueta continuing as the right-back. At the heart of the Chelsea defence, the absence of Antonio Rudiger (knee) and Gary Cahill (Achilles) means there is no option but for Andreas Christensen and David Luiz to form the central defensive partnership once again.
The three-man midfield axis is also expected to witness only one change, with Jorginho and N’Golo Kante expected to keep hold of their places. But, Sarri hinted during his pre-match press conference that Ruben Loftus-Cheek will continue to have his minutes managed, owing to his delicate back problems.
“We have to control him. He needs a particular way of training, for sure for a long period, probably for ever. But I think we can avoid an operation. In the last month he was able to train every day. Now he’s fit. He played very well against Frankfurt. I am very happy with him.”
Loftus-Cheek ought to drop down to the bench, having been one of the better players for Chelsea against Eintracht Frankfurt. With one eye on next week’s return leg, Loftus-Cheek will only be kept as a backup option, with Ross Barkley replacing him in the starting lineup.
Up ahead in attack, Willian is struggling with a knock, while Olivier Giroud largely remains an option for Europa League. The Brazilian winger ought to be replaced by Eden Hazard, who could be playing his final home Premier League game for Chelsea, when Watford pay them a visit.
Hazard is expected to be joined by Gonzalo Higuain and Pedro in the attacking trident, with Willian and Giroud providing options off the bench.