Olivier Giroud is likely to get the nod over Tammy Abraham while Timo Werner may drop to the bench when Chelsea face off against Aston Villa on Monday.
After their humbling defeat to Arsenal at the weekend, Chelsea will be aiming to produce a strong reaction and return to winning ways immediately, when they play hosts to Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in Matchweek 16.
Heading into the game, there are new injury concerns for manager Frank Lampard. However, Chelsea are once again likely to be without Hakim Ziyech, who is recuperating from a thigh injury.
Chelsea with Ziyech starting: 6-1-0
2.7 points per game
Chelsea without Ziyech in the squad: 4-2-5
1.2 points per game
— Maghrib Foot (@MaghribFoot) December 26, 2020
Speaking of the Moroccan’s condition ahead of the Arsenal encounter, Lampard had said, “He had an injury at the start of the season and he’s just got another muscle injury. You have to wait for it to recover. It’s not a long-term concern, we hope to have him back within the next week or so, and hopefully offering what he was before.”
Given that Chelsea will be playing their second game in 48 hours, Lampard is expected to make some key changes to the lineup that took the field against Arsenal on Boxing Day. Both Reece James and Ben Chilwell only recently recovered from injuries and are unlikely to be pushed to play two games in two days. In their place, captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Emerson Palmieri are likely to start.
Thiago Silva, too, is unlikely to start, given the minimal recovery time between the two games. The Brazilian will, therefore, make way for Antonio Rudiger to partner Kurt Zouma at the heart of the Chelsea defence. No change is expected in goal, however, with Edouard Mendy being retained ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Mateo Kovacic did not enjoy the best of games last time out and was subbed off at half-time. The Croat is likely to be on the bench against Aston Villa, with Jorginho starting instead. The Italian will slot in as the deepest of the three midfielders, with N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount occupying the remaining two slots in the middle of the park.
Moving to the attack, Timo Werner had another stinker at the weekend, sparking some harsh words from Lampard in the aftermath. “Timo today wasn’t giving us enough with or without the ball and some of it we have to give him time because it is a different league but also we have to get there quickly, so we’ll see about his tiredness,” he said.
Having been taken off at half-time on Boxing Day, the German international is unlikely to make it to the starting XI against Villa. In his place, compatriot Kai Havertz should get the nod on the right flank. There should be a change on the left wing as well, with Callum Hudson-Odoi likely to step in for Chrisitan Pulisic, who might not be risked, given his recent injury record.
Upfront, Tammy Abraham was one of the few positives for Chelsea at the weekend. However, the Englishman could make way for Olivier Giroud, who will be fresher after having played no part against Arsenal.
Chelsea Predicted XI: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Mount; Havertz, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi