Aubameyang starts, Zakaria decision – Chelsea’s best XI’s for Dinamo Zagreb and Fulham clashes
Thomas Tuchel will be sure to rotate his side this week as the Blues face winnable Champions League and Premier League fixtures
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Zakaria could start both Chelsea games this week against Dinamo Zagreb and Fulham
Thomas Tuchel will have some big decisions to make on the team selection front as his side face winnable games in the Champions League and Premier League against Dinamo Zagreb and Fulham, respectively.
The Blues come into this week’s two fixtures on the back of a rather fortuitous win over West Ham in the London derby over the weekend. It’s a result that means after six games, Chelsea have the same number of points as they did after the same amount of games was played back in 2016/17 and everyone knows what happened after that.
Ahead of the first challenge this week against Zagreb, Tuchel has his two Deadline Day recruits available in the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Zakaria. Both missed the West Ham win due to facial injury and work permit issues, respectively.
Both have travelled out to Eastern Europe this week in the hope that they can make their first-team debuts tonight in Croatia. It’s only Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kanté who miss out on the trip abroad. “We decided with Thiago that he will have a break from the travelling and the stress after playing every minute so far in very intense matches,” Tuchel updated in his pre-match press conference on Monday evening. “It was the moment to give him a break instead of putting him on the bench and having the travel issues. He takes care of his recovery.
“We had the opportunity to take everyone who was in training and available to Zagreb to do our last training. That includes Denis and Auba. He had a test with his mask, felt fine, trained normal. If everything goes well today they will both be available.”
With these injury considerations taken into account, football.london has previewed the best XI’s Tuchel can pick for the upcoming fixtures this week in the Champions League and the Premier League.
Champions League- Dinamo Zagreb
For this winnable fixture, Tuchel should see this one as the perfect opportunity to give his Deadline Day signings their debut as a game against Dinamo Zagreb wouldn’t be conceived as a baptism of fire.
Christian Pulisic and Raheem Sterling fared relatively well at the weekend, so they should both start on the wing to supply Aubameyang with the goods. In midfield, Zakaria would be paired with Mateo Kovacic for who this game means a lot, considering he is returning to the place it all began for him.
In defence, Thiago Silva will be absent, so Trevoh Chalobah should be given the opportunity to deputise in the Brazilian’s absence. Wesley Fofana would make his second appearance for Chelsea whilst Kalidou Koulibaly, like Silva, should be given the chance to rest up for the weekend, meaning Marc Cucurella could drop deep and leave the left-wing-back position to Ben Chilwell, who will be eager to start after his goal at the weekend.
Mason Mount made a positive impact against the east Londoners from the bench, so Tuchel could decide to bring him on in the second half when Zagreb’s defence are tired to add an extra dimension to Chelsea’s attacking play.
And finally, despite Edouard Mendy being declared fit, his poor recent form means that Kepa Arrizabalaga should be given the chance to stand in. Hopefully, taking the Senegalese out of the limelight for this one could go some way in restoring his confidence in the long-run.
Chelsea’s best XI for Dinamo Zagreb (3-4-3): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Wesley Fofana, Trevoh Chalobah, Marc Cucurella; Reece James, Denis Zakaria, Mateo Kovacic, Ben Chilwell; Christian Pulisic, Raheem Sterling, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Premier League- Fulham
Mendy, Silva and Koulibaly would return after a well-deserved break.
Depending on how Zakaria performs on his debut, if all goes well, he should start in the midfield alongside the also rested Jorginho as the management team still need to be careful with Mateo Kovacic, who has had injury concerns stemming from pre-season.
“I’m getting better. I had some problems with my knee after national team and in pre-season,” Kovacic said in his pre-match press conference. “Was a tough pre-season for me. I have recovered and am getting better day by day. I need to get my sharpness and fitness back but games and training are there for it so I’m looking forward to being better every day.”
A similar decision will have to be made with Ben Chilwell. Despite his goal against West Ham, the £50million signing still has to be careful with his recovery from that long-term ACL rupture suffered in the Juventus game last season. As a result, Cucurella would be the starter on this occasion.
Further up, Mount would start as he should be well rested and if all is good with Aubameyang after his debut, the 33-year-old would lead the line against the Cottagers. Alternatively, Armando Broja could be handed the chance if something went wrong with Auba during the Zagreb clash.