After an abject performance against Tottenham that highlighted the issues facing Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea – in defence, an underperforming midfield and a lack of goals from an out and out striker.
While it may not be all doom and gloom, this was however just the first defeat of the season in 13 league games – a spark or mini shake-up could be just what’s needed to get the club back firing when they return to league action on Sunday against Fulham, managed by former boss Claudio Ranieri.
The Europa League fixture on Thursday against PAOK at Stamford Bridge could be a chance for some of the five players CFCnet reckons could take advantage of this mini blip and force their way into Maurizio Sarri’s starting XI, which has so far proven to be set in stone.
It’s proven to a be frustrating season, fresh off the back of an impressive showing at the World Cup for Ruben Loftus-Cheek. He bagged a hat-trick against BATE Borisov in west London but was hauled off in the next away fixture against the same opponents.
It would be great to see RLC start the game on Thursday and no doubt fans would be keen to see the English international step up and show the same combative style as he displayed in Russia this past summer.
Is it all too much to ask for though? Does Sarri rate RLC? Not in the last two Premier League match squads and on the bench for the last Europa League game. However, with Barkley, Jorginho and Kovacic all having up and down games it is surely the time to throw Ruben Loftus-Cheek back in the mix.
The defender hasn’t had much luck this season, limited to Europa League starts and has gone from Premier League regular under Antonio Conte to a player on the verge of forcing a January exit. However, David Luiz’s performances in the centre of defence have been questionable and his positioning in the 3-1 defeat at Spurs was eye opening. Much of the defensive issues could be because N’Golo Kante is playing further forward this season, but CFCnet reckon it could be time to see the Dane force Sarri’s hand and use Thursday’s game against PAOK as the start of a run of games for the Blues.
Probably the least likely to force his way into the first XI in the Premier League, but still his energy and unpredictability will cause all ends of problems for unsuspecting defences. He desperately needs cup starts to show what he can do and hopefully Sarri gives him the nod on Thursday. Chelsea need something different in games to unlock the door and Hudson-Odoi could just be that player – if his performances in pre-season are still anything to go by then the Blues need to give him a shot or get him out on-loan in January to further his progress.
The last time Pedro got 90 minutes in the league he assisted and scored in a 3-1 win against Crystal Palace, since then he’s been restricted to substitute appearances against Everton and Spurs, picking up just one point out of a possible six. The Spaniard started the season with a bang, scoring three in four and it seems now is as good a time as any to put him back in the starting XI and shake up the mini-blip the club find themselves in.
The French striker scored the consolation goal against Spurs and a match-winning goal for France during the international break. Giroud can never be said to be ‘not trying’ and his four Premier League assists show he’s a team player. With back-to-back goals surely the big man should be given the opportunity of a run of games, and will likely be given the start against PAOK. Whatever goalscoring run Alvaro Morata was on, appears to have quickly dried up.
Do you agree or disagree with some or all of the five players that we reckon should be given a run of games in the starting XI? Let us know on the forum or in the comments section below.