When the Premier League season resumes after the postponed games, Frank Lampard will have some tricky decisions to make.
The Chelsea squad remain in lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of slowing down.
All Premier League games have been suspended until the end of April, as the game’s authorities ponder how to fulfil the remainder of the season’s fixtures.
The European Championships have already been moved to next summer to provide space for domestic leagues to complete their matches, but if the COVID-19 situation does not improve, games may not restart on time.
Back in west London, Frank Lampard’s side were just regaining some momentum before the season was interrupted, with an impressive win over Liverpool in the FA Cup and league victories over Tottenham and Everton.
The Blues had hit a patchy run of form prior to that, with a heavy defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
But when the season finally does resume, Lampard will be confident that his players can continue where they left off against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton, and seal a place in the top four to qualify for the Champions League.
The Chelsea head coach will have some tricky decisions to make in terms of his strongest line-up, with several players excelling before the season was halted.
In goal, Kepa Arrizabalaga regained the number one spot with a series of impressive performances and appears to have put his woes behind him.
The back four appears to be more settled, with Kurt Zouma’s partnership with Antonio Rudiger looking a solid one. Marcos Alonso’s return at left-back is a slightly more surprising development, but the Spaniard has been excellent since his recall, and has chipped in with crucial goals.
Reece James is perhaps unlucky to miss out, but Cesar Azpilicueta’s experience gives him the edge.
N’Golo Kante is still recovering from an abductor problem, but should he confirm his fitness after the break, the Frenchman is still one of the first names that should be out of the team sheet regardless with Kovacic replacing him.
Billy Gilmour is the interesting pick, with Lampard sure to have a real headache over the young Scot. With Jorginho suspended for the Everton clash, Gilmour was handed another chance after impressing in the cup win over Liverpool – and the teenager did not disappoint, with a man-of-the-match performance.
If the former Rangers star continues in the same vein, it may be impossible for Lampard to leave him out when the season restarts.
Christian Pulisic is another who is on the road to recovery, but his return will be a welcome one, with the Blues missing his pace and thrust from wide areas.
Mason Mount has seemingly cemented his place in Lampard’s first team plans of late, with some impressive performances coming from an advanced position in a midfield three. However, if Kante is restored to the line-up, the England international may have to move into the front three where he can cause damage cutting inside off the flank as he has done in previous games, but that’s not the case now.
Olivier Giroud has deputised to excellent effect in the last few games for Chelsea, and has regained the full trust of Lampard with some impressive displays leading the line.
But if Tammy Abraham fully recovers from injury, the suspicion is that the 22-year-old’s mobility and pace better suits the way Lampard wants to play.
Chelsea’s best XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Zouma, Alonso;Kovacic, Gilmour, Mount; Pulisic, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Abraham.