Chelsea travel to Goodison Park for Sunday’s Premier League encounter against Everton.
The Blues have been inconsistent since the international break with just two wins from five league games. Despite this, they are in a commanding position to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are currently third in the league standings with a six-point lead over Arsenal behind them. They have a further two-point advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
A maximum of eight points will ensure their top-four berth this term. Chelsea will be favourites against the Toffees, but their record at Goodison Park has been woeful with three straight losses.
They will be aiming to end the wretched run at the stadium on Sunday.
Here is how Chelsea could line up against Everton:
Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy has been Chelsea’s number one choice in goal for the Premier League. He has been ever-present for the Blues on either side of his African Cup of Nations commitments. The Senegal star is expected to start between the sticks, and will be eyeing his 14th clean sheet of the league campaign.
Defence: Andreas Christensen has returned to training after a brief absence due to stomach cramps, but he may not be reinstated into the line-up. We fancy Tuchel to continue with Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger at the heart of Chelsea’s defence.
Reece James was spectacular from right wing-back against Manchester United in midweek, constantly getting the better of Alex Telles. He won a stunning 13 duels and nearly bagged the winner in the closing minutes. He should be an assured starter.
Similarly, Marcos Alonso is expected to start at left wing-back. The Spaniard has been the subject of mixed opinions among Chelsea fans, but remains a pivotal figure. He followed up his match-winning assist against West Ham with the opening goal at Old Trafford.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante started brilliantly against United on Thursday, but his performance dipped after the interval. He was dispossessed by Nemanja Matic in the lead-up to Cristiano Ronaldo’s equaliser. The Frenchman is likely to drop to the bench. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been a regular starter in recent weeks, should come in to partner Jorginho in Chelsea’s midfield. Mateo Kovacic has returned to training after an ankle ligament injury, but he could make the bench at best.
Attack: Mason Mount should be an assured starter, but there could be changes elsewhere. Timo Werner has bagged three goals this month, but could still be replaced by Christian Pulisic, having drawn blank in his last two appearances. Pulisic bagged a late winner against West Ham, but started on the bench again at Old Trafford.
Kai Havertz had an excellent one-on-one chance against United, but could not convert. His dip in form was acknowledged by Tuchel following the 1-1 draw. It won’t be a surprise if Lukaku gets the chance to lead the line against his former club. The Belgian has fared decently against the Toffees with one goal and two assists from five league meetings.
Expected Chelsea line-up (3-4-2-1) vs Everton