Chelsea team news: XI expected against Plymouth with Thomas Tuchel ready to sound the changes | Soccer | sport
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is set to name a very different squad when the Blues take on Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday afternoon. The European champions scored five goals against non-league Cheltenham Town in the final round of the competition and will be determined to produce another dominating performance against the little-known Greens at home this weekend.
The game will be a golden opportunity for Chelsea to build some much-needed winning momentum before the Premier League campaign comes to a commercial end.
They remain without a number of their key players, however, suggesting that Tuchel could once again decide to ring the changes against lower league opposition on Saturday.
sports express take a look at which Chelsea squad could line up against Plymouth in the FA Cup as the Blues go in search of a place in the next round.
Goalkeeper – Bettinelli
Chelsea will be without Edouard Mendy for visiting Plymouth as they prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations final with Senegal on Sunday.
It looks likely that Kepa Arrizabalaga, who played in Mendy’s absence, will hand the gloves over to Marcus Bettinelli for this weekend’s game.
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The former Fulham stopper made his only appearance for Chelsea to date in the previous round against Chesterfield but was unable to keep a clean sheet against the National League promotion chasers.
Defense – Hall, Sarr, Chalobah
Malang Sarr could be starred from the first whistle against Plymouth, with Thiago Silva likely to be rested after representing Brazil on international duty during the winter break.
The former could be joined by the emerging duo of Trevoh Chalobah and Lewis Hall at the heart of the Blues’ defense if Andreas Christensen is also spared after recovering from COVID-19.
Chelsea’s back three will be tasked with silencing the likes of Plymouth duo Ryan Hardie and Luke Jephcott, who have scored 17 goals between them in League One this season.
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Midfielder – Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Hudson-Odoi
Cesar Azpilicueta could don the armbar at Chelsea right-back, while Callum Hudson-Odoi will be in the game with a star cry on the opposite flank.
The Blues have relied on Marcos Alonso in recent weeks due to Ben Chilwell’s long-term injury, but a visit from Plymouth could give Tuchel more freedom to turn things around.
Meanwhile, the Chelsea boss could be tempted to name a central midfield duo of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Saul Niguez.
The latter failed to live up to pre-season expectations during his loan spell at Stamford Bridge and is desperate for a solid performance to show his ability on Sunday.
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Attack – Ziyech, Havertz, Werner
Tuchel could decide to name a strong attacking trio in hopes of killing the game early on, with Hakim Ziyech among those in the frame to be awarded a starting spot against Plymouth.
He could be paired with Kai Havertz in supporting roles behind the centre-forward, while Timo Werner could be selected to lead the line.
The 25-year-old excelled in the role of RB Leipzig’s No.9 before moving to Chelsea two summers ago and could start in the position ahead of Romelu Lukaku on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Christian Pulisic is unlikely to feature from his late return from international duty with the United States earlier this week.
Possible Chelsea eleven (3-4-2-1): Bettinelli; Hall, Sarr, Chalobah; Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Hudson-Odoi; Ziyech, Havertz; Werner.