Chelsea make the trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in their Premier League opener on Sunday. The Blues were not able to strengthen the squad with new arrivals due to the ongoing transfer ban, but there were plenty of positives during pre-season with a number of young graduates catching the eye.
Kepa Arrizabalaga has been the undisputed choice in goal since joining the club last year and he will be expected to start between the sticks against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
In the defence, manager Frank Lampard should go with the same combination from the final pre-season friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend.
Skipper Cesar Azpilicueta and Emerson should feature in the right and left-back roles respectively while Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen are certain to take up the central defensive positions.
Both Zouma and Christensen played through the entire 90 minutes at Borussia-Park and they could form a partnership during the early parts of the season with Antonio Rudiger just returning to training after a long-term injury.
In the midfield, Lampard is unlikely to risk N’Golo Kante from the starting XI, unless he has completely recovered from a knee problem, which saw him miss most of the pre-season campaign.
In such a case, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho seem the automatic picks for the holding midfield roles after featuring regularly together during the recent run of friendly games.
Further forward, Pedro and Christian Pulisic are strong choices to slot into the right and left side of the attack and Ross Barkley could get the nod over Mason Mount for the number 10 position.
Both Mount and Barkley had impressive pre-season campaigns but the latter should have the edge with his experience and ability to provide cross-field long balls for his teammates on the counter-attack.
Upfront, Lampard may prefer to go with pace and mobility, and Tammy Abraham should get the nod over both Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi after getting more minutes in the final two pre-season games.
Predicted Lineup: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Emerson, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Pedro, Ross Barkley, Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham