On Monday night newly promoted Burnley welcome Premier League favourites Chelsea to Turf Moore. This game is covered in speculation regarding Chelsea’s line-up as no one knows what team Mourinho will decide field. In terms of availability of players reports suggest Didier Drogba should have recovered from his injury in time to make the bench. While Ramires is still serving his suspension from the end of last season, apart from that Mourinho has a fully fit squad to choose from.
The first question which arises is the formation. Last season Mourinho adopted a 4-2-3-1, while using the 4-3-3 every now and then but this pre-season he has flirted with both. The arrival of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona has seen Chelsea line up with Ramires, Matic and Fabregas in midfield as seen in there last pre-season game against Real Sociedad. However with Ramires suspended it’s almost certain Chelsea will line up in the conventional 4-2-3-1.
The next question is player selection; this is plagued with question marks. The biggest mystery is obviously in relation to who will start in goal for the blues. In his press conference on Friday Jose Mourinho said “They will know at the same time. All I can say, with all my respect, I think Chelsea have two of three best goalkeepers in the world. This is something unique. It is a problem, a great problem. I think it is one every manager in every club would like to have.” Rumours suggest Courtouis will get the nod. As it looks increasingly likely Petr Cech’s time as Chelsea’s number one is coming to an end.
In defence Terry & Cahill are definite starters in the centre of defence. This leaves Filipe Luis, Ivanovic and Azpilecuta battling it out for two spots. Many believe Luis and Azpilecuta will be Chelsea’s first choice full backs this season but Ivanovic appears to still be in Mourinho’s plan judging on pre-season. I’d expect Ivanovic at RB and Azpilecuta at LB replicating last season’s back four. Luis has not hit the ground running and hasn’t had a great pre-season. It appears he is still adapting, Mourinho will go with the tried and tested.
Matic and Fabregas in the midfield is another certainty with Ramires being suspended, Mikel not being 100% and Van Ginkel not making his mark. Matic and Fabregas have complimented each other extremely well in pre-season and seem to have a great understanding, this looks like Chelsea’s first choice midfield for the season.
The three behind the striker is another conundrum. Willian, Oscar & Schurrle have only been back a couple of weeks and are not fully fit. Hazard as well seems off the pace, which could mean a rare start for Mohammed Salah who had the summer off. Mourinho has stated that his team in the opening few weeks will not be his strongest eleven as players attempt to get up to speed. I expect it will be Hazard, Salah and Oscar to start. But Schurrle & Willian could easily start this is up in the air as Salah is the only one fully fit.
Diego Costa up front is self-explanatory with the ex Atletico Madrid man slotting in perfectly since his £32 million transfer.
Ivanovic Terry Cahill Azpilecuta
Salah Oscar Hazard