Thomas Tuchel’s arrival a fortnight ago has resulted in an up-rise in form for Chelsea. Sunday’s 2-1 win at Bramall Lane meant that the Blues have now picked up 10 of the last 12 available points. That mini run has propelled them to within a point of the top four, which seemed out of reach not too long ago.
Next up for the German is his first ever FA Cup tie against Championship side Barnsley. The teams have already met once this season in the third round of the League Cup where Chelsea comfortably came out on top in a 6-0 rout. With this being the Blues’ fourth game in 11 days, rotation of the squad is of utmost importance.
Here is the team we expect at Oakwell Stadium as Chelsea goes for a quarterfinal berth:
Kepa Arrizabalaga (No. 1) Goalkeeper, Spain
Kepa Arrizabalaga has played in the two previous FA Cup games this season against Morecambe and more recently, Luton Town. We expect him back in the side for this one in place of Edouard Mendy, who has been excellent since his move to west London. In Arrizabalaga’s most recent outing against Luton, he conceded a goal which you could argue that he could have done better with, but that would not be hindering his chances of featuring in the game.
Cesar Azpilicueta (No. 28) Centerback, Spain
For the first time since signing for Chelsea nine years ago, Cesar Azpilicueta found himself on the fringes of the first team during Frank Lampard’s final months at the helm. This was due to the emergence of Reece James, who was Chelsea’s first choice right back at the time. However, the change in shape since Tuchel’s appointment has restored the skipper back into the side, albeit in a slightly different role, as he now features on the right side of a three-man defence. This was a position he played to great affect during Antonio Conte’s time in charge.
Andreas Christensen (No. 4) Centerback, Denmark
As a result of Thiago Silva’s injury in the London Derby against Tottenham, Andreas Christensen has found himself in the first team of late. He has certainly impressed in that time, although not to any extent that would suggest a permanent spot in the starting XI when the Brazilian is passed fit to play again. With Silva not expected to be back in time for this one, the Dane has another opportunity to get some minutes under his belt.
Kurt Zouma (No. 15) Centerback, France
Kurt Zouma seems to already be one of the starters under Lampard who has lost his place under Tuchel. As of this moment, Antonio Rudiger appears to have a greater degree of his compatriot’s trust, which is, of course, bad news for Zouma. Nonetheless, the French defender is expected to start the game where hopefully he can gain a hand in his personal duel with Rudiger for a starting spot.