Fit-again midfielder N’Golo Kante seems likely to go straight back into Chelsea’s midfield against Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but second-guessing much of Thomas Tuchel’s starting line-up in his second game as boss is a tough call.
Kante is back in training after four weeks out with a hamstring injury and new Blues head coach Tuchel has already described the Frenchman as world class and revealed he wants to play him as one of two deeper-lying midfielders – or as the German said, a “double six”.
Kante would replace either Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in that role, with Jorginho looking the most likely to make way if the decision is based on who impressed more in the midweek draw with Wolves.
Mason Mount’s eye-catching appearance from the bench sees the England midfielder come back into strong contention, with his inclusion very much depending on how strong Tuchel’s desire is to keep to his policy of opting for experience during the period of change at the club.
Tuchel’s familiarity with his fellow countryman means Antonio Rudiger should retain his place in the back three ahead of Kurt Zouma – for now. But several days of seeing Reece James at first hand mean that Cesar Azpilicueta’s place on the right is under threat.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was man of the match against Wolves, and Ben Chilwell, will surely continue in the wing-back roles, with the protection offered by the system helping Hudson-Odoi mainly concentrate on his attacking.
Burnley’s physical approach and defensive mindset may well see Olivier Giroud’s presence and nous once again preferred to the greater movement and pace of both Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner with space in behind very likely to be at a premium.
Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz are likely to get another chance to shine, although Christian Pulisic is another player who made a compelling case for inclusion having impressed as a substitute.
Predicted team v Burnley: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Kante, Chilwell; Ziyech, Havertz, Giroud.