What is Chelsea’s best starting XI?
Chelsea currently have one of the easiest line-ups to predict, with Antonio Conte inclined to stick with a core group of players.
A 3-man defence is a given but it is the deployment of his wing-backs that really catches the eye due to their offensive nature.
The Blues are very strong at attacking and defending set pieces and they will often look to transition quickly when defending corners, with their swift counter attacking play often catching out the opposition.
Thibaut Courtois is the undisputed number one at Stamford Bridge and the Belgium international will continue between the posts for Chelsea in the Premier League this season.
The main cover comes from former Mancheter City and Malaga stopper Willy Caballero. The Argentinian failed to make the number one jersey his own at the Etihad and he will probably have to make do with the occasonal cup appearance at Stamford Bridge too.
Conte’s switch to a three-man defence was the foundations on which their 2016/17 title success was built and the Chelsea boss has shown no desire to change track. However, with John Terry and Kurt Zouma moving on, it’s now a new look back 3 for Chelsea.
The super-consistent César Azpilicueta is the only assured starter with Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rüdiger and Davis Luiz contesting the other 2 spots.
Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses excelled in their wing-back rolls as the Blues cruised to the title but Davide Zappacosta and January signing Emerson Palmieri offer much needed competion in those wide areas.
N’golo Kanté’s arrival from Leiceter City was another contributing factor to Chelsea regaining the Premier League crown but it did come as something of a surprise to see Serbia international Nemanja Matić being allowed to join Manchester United.
Conte has options alongside Kanté, with Danny Drinkwater, Cesc Fàbregas and Tiémoué Bakayoko all vying for game minutes.
Conte does have the option of using Eden Hazard in a variety of roles including the number 10 position, wide left or even as a false 9 and he remains the Blues’ star player.
Pedro is another pacy option for the right wing, a position he tends to contest with free-kick specialist Willian.
Filling the void left by Diego Costa’s drawn out departure has proved difficult. Álvaro Morata has adapted well to the rigours of the English game but he may need more time to acclimatise fully and he has already picked up his fair share of niggling injuries.
Michy Batshuayi joined Dortmund on loan in the January transfer window, triggering a deal for Arsenal super-sub Olivier Giroud, who offers a much needed physical threat up top.
Preferred Chelsea Starting XI
Giroud is expected to be Conte’s ‘go-to man’ but Ross Barkley could be one to keep an eye on.
The England interntional finally joined the Blues in January after missing out on a deadine day move last August and he certainly has plenty to prove after losing his way at Everton.
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