Kovacic choice, Azpilicueta decision: The Chelsea starting XI Tuchel must consider vs Man City



Thomas Tuchel faces off with Pep Guardiola for the fifth time in his first 12 months as Chelsea boss on Saturday lunchtime.

The German coach boats a winning record over Manchester City since landing in the Stamford Bridge hotseat, and will be keen to gain three points at the Etihad Stadium to start narrowing the 10-point gap to the Premier League champions.

Having admitted to getting his tactics wrong in Chelsea‘s last outing against the Citizens, when Gabriel Jesus’ goal separated the sides, Tuchel will be keen to put things right.

The 48-year-old will have to do so without Andreas Christensen, in addition to the likes of Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James and Ben Chilwell, after the Denmark international tested positive for Covid-19. However, Kenedy is an option after his loan at Flamengo was cut short and Tuchel described the Brazilian as having a ‘big opportunity’.

To take on the league leaders, Tuchel will have to get his starting XI right, and football.london’s reporters name the team they would select for the clash.

Sam Inkersole

The absence of Andreas Christensen for Chelsea against Man City will be a bit of a blow for Thomas Tuchel, who might need to change up his tactics for the game.

The head coach could go with his tried and trusted 3-4-2-1 formation, with Thiago Silva set for a return to the starting line-up and with Cesar Azpilicueta moving into a more central position.

But that would then mean he would have to pick one of his attack-minded players, either Christian Pulisic or Callum Hudson-Odoi, to play at wing-back.

A switch to a four might be the way to go for the German, who will once again be without Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell and Reece James. A four would also allow the head coach to play N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and the in-form Mateo Kovacic from the start.

Romelu Lukaku should start at the Eithad Stadium and so should Mason Mount, so that leaves one extra place up for grabs.

Hakim Ziyech has a good record against City, so does Kai Havertz, while Timo Werner can exploit Pep Guardiola’s high line with his pace. It’s a tough call but Havertz’s height and his mobility perhaps gives him the edge over the other two.

Sam’s team : Kepa; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Mount, Havertz, Lukaku.

Scott Trotter

Thomas Tuchel’s decision whether to stick with a back four or revert to his favoured three central defenders set-up will be crucial heading into the game against Manchester City.

The absence of Andreas Christensen could leave the backline stretched but against the talents of the Premier League leaders, the experience of Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger could line up. The Dane’s pace would be missed but the only other fit senior defender is Malang Sarr, who has been assessed as playing on the left of a back three, a position Rudiger certainly won’t move from.

Christian Pulisic and Marcos Alonso could line up on either flank as wing-backs with the American’s ability further forward providing the versatility of Chelsea to switch to a back four if required, and for Azpilicueta to move to the full-back position.

Tuchel opted to play N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic against City at Stamford Bridge but seems unlikely to do the same again. The former duo have experienced plenty of success against the hosts in the last 12 months, while Kovacic could be a useful tool to beat a tiring press.

Romelu Lukaku likely leads the forward line with Mason Mount in assistance. Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner all have cases to start against Pep Guardiola’s men but the German internationals have perhaps had the most success.

Havertz’s ability to manipulate space and his height perhaps make him a standout candidate, but Werner’s pace to get in behind a high backline could also be crucial. Starting the latter may gave Lukaku a chance to show he can drop deep as well as hold the ball against the very best.

Scott’s XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; Pulisic, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Lukaku, Werner.





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