After the loss to Manchester City and the draw to Valencia, Chelsea’s best XI is as clear as ever. Frank Lampard should see that more clearly now.
Coming into the season, it was pretty well known that Frank Lampard would have some tough decisions to make in regards to his lineup. After mostly settling on a 4-3-3-/4-2-3-1 shape, the picture became clearer. After the loss to Manchester City and the draw to Valencia, the picture should be crystal clear.
Mind, picking an XI is not about picking the best players every single time. It is about picking the right balance of players with the best qualities in the best form. While there have been many either or questions throughout the season (many injury enforced), Lampard should now know exactly who his most balanced, best XI is going into December.
Obviously Kepa Arrizabalaga is the default choice in goal. He struggled in the two most recent matches but he has far more trust than Willy Caballero can claim. A small bit of sunlight on the horizon is that he seemed immensely more confident after the penalty save. He has much to improve on but time is on his side.
The center back pair is one of the most important on the pitch and Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma have done an admirable job together but Andreas Christensen’s performance against Valencia should put him into the starting XI. Many will focus on the mistakes he made while ignoring how absolutely dominant he was the rest of the game. Assuming Tomori can move on from recent mistakes, the Christensen/Tomori partnership is the one to foster with Antonio Rudiger’s return being the only question.
Reece James has more than played himself into a starting role. With fullbacks becoming more and more catch all players like center mids used to be, James’ expansive skill set will be invaluable. Opposite him needs to be the Chelsea captain. Neither Marcos Alonso nor Emerson has the full skill set Chelsea requires. Cesar Azpilicueta may not be the most physical player Chelsea has, but he might be one of the smartest. His recent outings on the left have been mostly excellent and that is where he should line up for the next few weeks.