The games keep coming thick and fast for Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel as they are back in action this weekend when they travel to West Ham for a lunchtime London derby.
The Blues head into the game in east London top of the standings, a point ahead of Manchester City in second. West Ham, without a win in three, sit in fourth in what could be a mouthwatering London derby.
For the Blues, it is a chance for them to cement their top spot before their title rivals take the field. Chelsea were embroiled in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Watford in midweek to keep pace at the summit.
Hakim Ziyech came off the bench to score the winner on Wednesday after Emmanuel Dennis had cancelled out Mason Mount’s first half opener.
The visitors to east London will be without injured quartet Mateo Kovacic, Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Trevoh Chalobah on Saturday, the latter picking up a hamstring injury injury in the Watford win which has ruled him out.
Timo Werner, Reece James and Jorginho are all back in contention having not been selected in midweek and all three are pushing for starts at London Stadium.
So, how do we think the Blues might line up for the big game later?
One thing is an absolute certainty heading into the game and that is Edouard Mendy will start in goal looking to keep up his incredibly impressive 2021 under Tuchel.
In defence, Reece James is surely a shoo-in to return having missed out on Wednesday night with a knock. Chelsea lose a lot of attacking prowess without James in the team at wing-back and he should replace Cesar Azpilicueta in that spot.
With Trevoh Chalobah out injured, we should see a return to the back three that served Tuchel so well in the first couple of months of the season with Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger all starting.
Marcos Alonso struggled in midweek but should still get the nod at left wing-back in the absence of Ben Chilwell. A match against a top four rival doesn’t seem like the time to experiment in that position.
Into midfield and with N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic out injured for the game, with Saul struggling in midweek too, Jorginho should return to the starting eleven having missed out in midweek. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is in line for another start as well.
In the front three is arguably where Tuchel has the most issues. Chelsea have a whopping 87 per cent win ratio this season with Mason Mount in the side so he should start but who makes it alongside him?
It is hard to ignore Hakim Ziyech after his performances off the bench in recent weeks while both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner will be itching for starts.
Callum Hudson-Odoi was rested in midweek and is also in contention for a start, then there is Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic to factor in.
It is not an enviable job for Tuchel to fit them all in but we think he will go with Havertz and Ziyech to join Mount in the front three but, really it could be any of those attacking players mentioned above who could get the nod.
Predicted Chelsea team: Mendy; James, Christensen, Silva, Rudiger, Alonso; Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Mount, Havertz, Lukaku