James worry, Lukaku return, Saul decision – Chelsea starting XI Tuchel should choose vs Watford

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The relentless winter schedule of Premier League football is underway as Chelsea look to bounce back from their draw against Manchester United with a win at Watford.

Thomas Tuchel and co head to Vicarage Road on Wednesday night looking to maintain their narrow lead in the Premier League, and have still to taste defeat in the league since they fell to Manchester City in September.

With 10 games over the next month or so, the pace will be relentless and who knows where Chelsea’s starting XI be tinkered with or rotated.

Decisions will be made all the more difficult when facing the Hornets with Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner all requiring late checks in addition to those out of the game.

football.london‘s Chelsea reporters name the team they would consider to face Watford below:

Sam Inkersole

Thomas Tuchel confirmed he has doubts over Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner heading into the game against Watford and if they aren’t 100%, it seems silly to risk them at Vicarage Road.

Tuchel’s side play 10 games in the span of 32 days coming up and he will need his players available for a number of big games and will certainly not want to take any risks to key players like James and Jorginho going forward. A game against lowly Watford is an ideal chance to perhaps give some of those players a breather.

The Hornets did do a number on Man Utd ten days ago but Chelsea should be able to cope with Claudio Ranieri’s side a lot better.

With James a doubt, Cesar Azpilicueta could get a run out at right wing-back. The Spaniard has been short of football recently but with Watford without their main attacking threat in Ismaila Sarr, it’s a good game for the club captain to return for.

With West Ham on the horizon at the weekend, Jorginho could be rested and that might mean a rare chance for Saul Niguez to come in, with both Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante both out injured.

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Up front, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kai Havertz recalled to the starting eleven to play the central striker, especially with doubts over Werner. Romelu Lukaku looked some way off full tilt during his ten-minute cameo against United last time out.

Sam’s XI: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger, Alonso; Saul, Loftus-Cheek; Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Havertz.

Adam Newson

So this isn’t easy. Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Chelsea will be without Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic for tomorrow’s trip to Watford while decisions will be taken on the fitness of Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner. So who makes the starting XI?

Personally, I do think a couple of risks will need to be taken. Partly because Watford have the potential to hurt any side – ask Manchester United – but also because going into a game with five or six changes will almost certainly throw off the balance of the Chelsea side.

Of course, in goal will be Edouard Mendy and on the left of the back three will be Antonio Rudiger. I would shift Trevoh Chalobah over into the middle for this game and bring in Cesar Azpilicueta to play as the right centre-back.

For me, James has to start at right wing-back given Marcos Alonso is a certainty to start on the opposite flank. And I’d also try to get an hour out of Jorginho and partner him with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield.

One area Tuchel isn’t short of options is in the front line with Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku all fit. Werner is a doubt but I’d not start him either way.

Having started eight in a row, it’s probably time to rest Hudson-Odoi, especially as he may be forced to deputise at left wing-back in the weeks ahead. Pulisic is my choice to start on the left of the Chelsea front three with Mason Mount on the right. If Lukaku can manage 60 minutes, I’d start the Belgian and then introduce Havertz.

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Adam’s XI: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Rudiger; James, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Lukaku, Pulisic.

Scott Trotter

Picking a Chelsea team is an unenviable task. Both for the quality of players you need to discern between and the injury problems that are arising.

If any concern remains around Reece James, he has probably earned a rest given his recent exploits and with no Premier League appearance in the last five outings, Cesar Azpilicueta will be desperate to start.

Thomas Tuchel has kept faith with Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger for every game since the international break with the latter in particular becoming undroppable. With West Ham on the horizon this weekend, Silva could be rested but with Azpilicueta playing on the flank, the possible alternatives are reduced.

Tuchel is further left with an issue over Jorginho, with N’Golo Kante still out. Ruben Loftus-Cheek seems set to start but whether the German coach will opt for Saul Niguez is the big option.

It still feels risky, so the Italian could start and be given an early night if Chelsea can get ahead.

Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount offer plenty of excitement to be rotated into the forward positions to offer Callum Hudson-Odoi a rest.

It stills seems that it may be too early for Romelu Lukaku to lead the line and with concerns over Timo Werner’s fitness Kai Havertz is the ideal candidate to lead the line.

Scott’s XI: Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso; Pulisic, Havertz, Mount.

Source by Football London

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