The Sky Blues defeated Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Thursday night, stretching the gulf between the two teams to even greater proportions, but Blues manager Graham Potter will be convinced that he can galvanise his side towards victory, despite the barrage of injuries.
Indeed, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic were both withdrawn from duty in the first half against Pep Guardiola’s destructive outfit, and the squad has truly been scraped down to the bare bones, with a host of further first-team stars sidelined.
Regardless, a winning mentality is embedded within Chelsea’s very core, illustrated by the whole gamut of major honours since the turn of the millennia – including two Champions League and five Premier League triumphs – and the chances of cup victory need only a glance back to last season, where the Blues lost on penalties in both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup to Liverpool, to know that this is a dogged and tenacious team that strives for silverware at every opportunity.
Here is how Football FanCast expects Chelsea boss Potter to field his starting line-up against Guardiola’s Man City in the FA Cup on Sunday, with four changes from the team that lost earlier in the week …
Predicted line-up: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Koulibaly, Cucurella; Jorginho, Kovacic, Zakaria; Ziyech, Aubameyang, Chukwuemeka.
The full-backs will remain the same, with captain Cesar Azpilicueta and £60m left-back Marc Cucurella continuing to maraud up and down the defensive flanks, while the “Rolls-Royce” that is Thiago Silva – as dubbed by Joe Cole – will be replaced by Trevor Chalobah as Kalidou Koulibaly’s centre-back partner.
A slight change, instilling more composure and authority into the centre of the park, will mean Jorginho recalls his spot in the stead of the injury-stricken Sterling, while Juventus loanee Denis Zakaria is expected to continue his all-encompassing role after dazzling against the forthcoming opponents earlier in the week.
19-year-old prospect Carney Chukwuemeka entered the fray for Pulisic in the first half against Man City and dazzled in his leg flanker role, recording a Chelsea match-best rating of 7.10, hitting the post and proving to be a constant menace against the opposing backline.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be offered another shot as the offensive focal point after losing his spot to Kai Havertz, the Gabonese veteran has not scored in seven matches for the Blues, and will be desperate to make an impact on Sunday.