Chelsea will play their first match since the blockbuster arrival of Enzo Fernandez from Benfica and Graham Potter has a couple of tricky decisions on his hands.
Chelsea will be looking to return to winning ways when they face Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.
The Blues are set to play their first game since the £106million arrival of Enzo Fernandez for a British record fee from Benfica on deadline day. The Argentine became Chelsea’s eighth January recruit as Todd Boehly splashed the cash, with Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile and Noni Madueke among the others to join the club.
But Potter now has a 33-man squad at his disposal ahead of the second half of the campaign, although several players remain out through either injury or suspension. Despite this, Potter still has an abundance of quality to choose from as his side try and record three points against Fulham after the goalless draw against Liverpool last time out.
So with that in mind, here is our predicted Chelsea XI vs Fulham
Kepa will keep his place between the sticks with Eduoard Mendy set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines through injury. The Senegalese stopper had to undergo an operation on a fractured finger sustained in training, but Kepa has played well in the meantime, keeping back-to-back clean sheets in the Premier League.
It is rather becoming a lottery to predict Potter’s Chelsea team as he seems to make changes to either his XI or the formation – but most of the time it is both. Ahead of this game, Potter is likely to start with a back-three due to an injury to midfielder Mateo Kovacic.
In that case, Nathaniel Chalobah, Thiago Silva and Benoit Badialshile would likely form the three-man defence. There is an argument to start Cesar Azpilicueta as part of the trio, but the Spaniard may instead be used at right-wing back with Reece James not up to match sharpness.
Potter could yet throw James straight back into the XI, with Ben Chilwell also fit to return to the Chelsea squad. But Marc Cucurella is set to get the nod at left-wing back ahead of Lewis Hall, too, despite the youngster impressing under Potter in recent weeks.
Does Potter start Fernandez? That feels like the million pound question, and Chelsea’s record signing could be chucked straight into the team following Kovacic’s injury and Jorginho’s departure. Denis Zakaria is also still out and this has left Fernandez and Conor Gallagher as the Blues’ only two senior central midfielders available, with Mason Mount preferred slightly forward.
Meanwhile, in attack, Mudryk is expected to make his full Chelsea debut, having impressed from the bench against Liverpool last time out. The Ukrainian made quite an impact at Anfield and almost scored his first for the club but his excellent strike was saved by Alisson.
He is likely to start from the left-wing, with Kai Havertz as the centre forward and Mason Mount on the right. Noni Madueke will be pushing to make his first Chelsea start but he may have to settle for a place from the bench to ensure he settles into the Blues side.
Chelsea predicted XI vs Fulham in full : Kepa; Silva, Badiashile, Chalobah; Azpi/James, Gallagher, Fernandez, Cucurella; Mount, Havertz, Mudryk