After successfully manoeuvring the Champions League group stages, Chelsea await the identity of their round of 16 opponent, which is to be revealed at the draw scheduled for Monday at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon. Although the players and staff alike will be eager to find out who they’re going to face, they first have to deal with the threat of a visit from Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side in the Premier League.
The Blues picked up a fairly convincing victory against Lille in their final group game, and will be hoping to keep that run of form going into the league as well. They have been stumbling in recent weeks, and Lampard and the boys will be eager to get things back on track, especially considering that the December fixtures could make or break their entire season.
Fikayo Tomori and Olivier Giroud have both picked up slight knocks over the last couple of weeks, and are doubts about being available for this tie. Meanwhile, Marco Van Ginkel’s ACL injury means that he isn’t going to be in the first team picture anytime soon. The Blues will be hoping to keep Tammy Abraham fit over the coming month as an injury to their star striker will come as a gutting blow.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is another who was said to be close to a return. Although this was the case, Lampard stated that he had suffered a few minor setbacks over the last month and that there’s no expected timeline on his return. The Englishman was a fan-favourite at Stamford Bridge under Maurizio Sarri last season, and his return is one that the Chelsea faithful will be restlessly awaiting.
Chelsea 4-2-3-1 Predicted Lineup
Kepa Arizzabalaga had a very comfortable night in West London this midweek and will keep his place between the sticks for the league tie. In front of him, expect to see the same back two from that fixture against Lille as well. Antonio Rudiger’s return from injury can revitalise the Chelsea defence, and with the monstrous Kurt Zouma alongside him, they could form a formidable partnership.
Reece James could make a return to the starting line-up after sitting out the game on Wednesday. He will occupy the regular right-back position, which means that skipper Cesar Azpilicueta will be forced to the left flank. Although the Spaniard hasn’t looked overly comfortable getting forward down that end, his experience and defensive prowess make him a versatile option across the back-line.
Lampard could mix things up once again by dropping Italian midfielder Jorginho for this fixture against the Cherries. Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante will keep their places as the midfield two. While the Frenchman will be responsible for mopping up loose balls and assisting the wingers as an extra man, the nimble Croatian can run the game with his movement and dribbling.
In front of the double pivot, expect Mason Mount to return to the side operating in the number ten role, just in behind the striker. Willian and Christian Pulisic will be expected to provide width on the night. The American hasn’t picked up a goal in the last few games and will be eager to get on the scoresheet in this battle against Eddie Howe’s energetic Bournemouth side.
Tammy Abraham has been a sensation since the season began, and the Blues were given a reality check when he had to miss a game due to injury. Without the Englishman’s presence upfront, the Blues wouldn’t be in such a good position in December. Although there were a few scares in the game against Lille, the youngster is expected to keep his place in the lineup and start ahead of Belgian hitman Michy Batshuayi.
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