3-4-3: Chelsea Predicted XI to Face Burnley
Chelsea begin their Premier League title defence on Saturday when they host Burnley in one of the 3pm kickoffs.
The Blues are heavy favourites to get off to a winning start in a fixture they were comfortable 3-0 winners in August last season.
Antonio Conte’s side will be expecting a better performance than the one that saw them held 1-1 by Arsenal in the FA Community Shield at Wembley last Sunday, losing on penalties.
Here is the starting XI I think we’ll see the Italian boss pick to face the Clarets:
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Hopefully he won’t have lost any confidence in his abilities after blazing his penalty over the bar in last weekend’s shootout but Thibaut Courtois will be Chelsea’s number one again this season regardless of the signing of Willy Caballero.
Defence: César Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill
John Terry has left and Kurt Zouma has been loaned out to Stoke City. Chelsea have signed Antonio Rüdiger to offer competition to the back three for their starting roles but I expect last season’s back three to start the season opener as they did in the Community Shield.
Midfield: Antonio Rüdiger, Cesc Fàbregas, N’Golo Kanté, Marcos Alonso
Victor Moses is suspended for the season opener following his red card in last season’s FA Cup final. This opens up an opportunity for Antonio Rüdiger to make his Premier League debut. The German international has spent a lot of his career as a right-back after starting as a central defender and with his pace I can see him being deployed here on Saturday. Rüdiger came on to play left wingback in the Community Shield. Cesc Fàbregas will start games that Conte expects to dominate and win comfortable – this is one of those. Tiémoué Bakayoko should be a regular in midfield this season but is ruled out through injury for the opener. N’Golo Kanté is one of the first names on the teamsheet. Marcos Alonso has little competition to start at left wing back.
Attack: Willian, Álvaro Morata, Pedro
Álvaro Morata faces competition with Michy Batshuayi, at least in the early stages of the season before he’s proven himself. The Belgian started against Arsenal last weekend but I think Morata will be handed his first competitive start against Burnley. Diego Costa is out of the picture at the moment. Eden Hazard is sidelined with an ankle injury so Pedro is the obvious choice to play on the left wing with Willian on the right.
Here’s the Chelsea team to face Burnley: