Chelsea can relax heading into their final Champions League game against Dinamo Zagreb at Stamford Bridge knowing they have already qualified and topped Group E.
It may come as a welcome break for Graham Potter after the 4-1 loss against his former side, Brighton & Hove Albion, on the weekend made it a run of three league games without a win, leaving this encounter the chance to bring in some fringe players and give those regular starters freedom and a confidence booster.
The Englishman admitted after the embarrassing defeat at the AMEX that he had made a mistake by using Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic as wing-backs which saw the Blues 3-0 down at half-time, the game tonight can give Potter the chance to tinker in his tactical setup and team selection without significant repercussions.
However, he will have his hand forced on a number of key players who have joined N’Golo Kante, Reece James and Wesley Fofana on the injury table, with the result tonight inconsequential, he may not risk other fitness doubts, will the 47-year-old make any omissions from their weekend’s side?
Here’s how the Blues could line up tonight:
An exciting selection choice could see Armando Broja start just his second game all season. It’s the perfect opportunity for the Albanian to kick start his career at Stamford Bridge – having once been described as “powerful” by Kevin Phillips, the 6 foot 3 marksman could finally come alive tonight for the Blues.
A change in goal will definitely happen after Kepa Arrizabalaga was forced off in the defeat on the south coast and he’s confirmed to be added to the injury list, meaning Edouard Mendy will start with the gloves for the first time since September, it will also be his first appearance in Europe this campaign too.
The outfield may become a lottery to predict but a back four – with Ben Chilwell and Cesar Azpilicueta as the two full-backs – could well be deployed following the disaster on the weekend, it also compensates for injuries to the backline with more forwards available for selection.
Potter confirmed during his pre-match press conference that Kalidou Koulibaly will be in the squad after missing the last three games due to injury, tonight gives him the perfect opportunity to gain match sharpness before heading into the final stretch of fixtures before the World Cup. He may partner Trevoh Chalobah.
We could well see a Blues debut for Denis Zakaria whose constant omission has left heads scratched, but his manager once again praised the attitude of the Swiss international and confirmed he’s in the frame for selection, he could partner Ruben Loftus-Cheek who has been an ever-present under the new boss.
Kai Havertz could be joined by Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic in the final third, with Potter making a total of seven changes.
Predicted Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Mendy, Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Koulibaly, Chilwell, Zakaria, Loftus-Cheek, Ziyech, Pulisic, Havertz, Broja