Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Chelsea: 3 Blues who must start

Chelsea v Newcastle United - Carabao Cup Quarter Final
Chelsea v Newcastle United - Carabao Cup Quarter Final / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

On Sunday, the final Premier League match before Christmas will unfold as Wolverhampton Wanderers hosts Chelsea. The Blues enter the game on a buoyant note following their victory over Newcastle United, securing a spot among the last four in the EFL Cup. Meanwhile, the hosts, Wolverhampton Wanderers, will be eager to rebound after their heavy defeat to West Ham United last week.

Chelsea's injury list remains substantial, yet there is a glimmer of hope as several players have returned to training in recent weeks. Considering this, here are three players that Mauricio Pochettino should weigh starting on Sunday.

1. Malo Gusto

The recent match played by Chelsea should serve as conclusive evidence against Mauricio Pochettino's ineffective and misguided experiment of deploying center-backs as fullbacks. The notable improvement Chelsea displayed in the second half, once they had proper fullbacks on either flank, spoke volumes about the necessity for a more conventional defensive setup.

The Frenchman, having recently recovered from an injury, showcased a commendable performance first as a left-back and later in his preferred right-back position. His display exemplified a player fully prepared for action. The width he provided, along with the support offered to attackers ahead of him, underscored a dimension that a makeshift center-back is inherently unable to deliver.

Utilizing a center-back in the right-back position is all right when the match is securely in hand, allowing Gusto some rest. Pochettino must abandon these impractical experiments that appear destined to fail.

2. Ian Maatsen

While it's understandable that Maatsen might not receive enough minutes when Ben Chilwell and Marc Cucurella are fit, the duo has been dealing with injuries since the start of the season. Notably, Maatsen has remained injury-free. However, the number of matches Levi Colwill has started suggests a lack of trust that Pochettino has in the Dutchman. The head coach has also experimented with playing Maatsen in various positions while bringing him in the second half of matches.

Like Gusto, Maatsen's introduction played a vital role in Chelsea's improved attack against Newcastle United on Tuesday night. It's high time for Pochettino to abandon his experiment of playing Colwill at left back and instead stick with Maatsen. This adjustment will address two problems created by the head coach himself in terms of team selection.

3. Mykhailo Mudryk

The Ukrainian player emerged as the difference-maker for Chelsea last Tuesday, scoring the crucial equalizer that led the match to penalties. Chelsea's number 10 then confidently dispatched his shot effectively during the shootout. While he may face challenges leveraging his explosive pace against the Wolves, who should probably adopt a deep defensive strategy, his recent impactful performance suggests he can make a difference for the Blues.