It’s Boxing Day and Chelsea are making the trip up to Aston Villa looking to get back to winning ways after the 0-0 draw with Wolves in their last Premier League outing.
The Blues squad has been stretched by a combination of Covid-19 and injury issues of late but Thomas Tuchel might be able to welcome some of his stars back at Villa Park.
Tuchel is sure to make changes to the side that took on Brentford after making eight switches for the Carabao Cup clash.
Antonio Rudiger sat on the bench for the fixture and will also come straight back into the starting XI.
The latter has returned to training but is suffering from lower back pain and has required an injection. It remains to be seen whether he could get through the fixture, and it seems more likely he might be managed through this period
Azpilicueta has started the Blues’ last five games and may be a due a rest, and Chalobah returned from injury to pick up a knock against Wolves before completing 90 minutes against Brentford. At this time of year, there isn’t an ideal option but after the 22-year-old’s impressive outing against the Bees he should get the nod. They will be flanked by Reece James and Marcos Alonso.
Kovacic will be suited to a place on the bench after he made his first start since returning from Covid-19 against Brentford.
Mason Mount feels the only sure-fire selection in Chelsea’s front three.
Harvey Vale and Jude Soonsup-Bell showed some impressive combinations against Brentford and along with a number of other development squad stars have remained with Chelsea’s first team in training.
After being afforded minutes from the bench Christian Pulisic seems likely to start. Where he is the focal point of the Blues attack will depend on whether Hudson-Odoi or Lukaku are deemed fit enough to start.
Tuchel will certainly be left with some difficult decisions.
Predicted XI: Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi.