Frank Lampard’s arrival has brought with it a brand new approach at Chelsea.
Under the restrictions of a transfer ban, the club has promoted many of its youth academy prospects, and they’ve thrived in the first team.
Recovering from a 4-0 loss on the opening day to Manchester United, the Blues are now third in the Premier League, one point ahead of next opponents Manchester City.
They’ve won six consecutive league games, with striker Tammy Abraham scoring 10 and assisting two in his 12 appearances so far this season.
Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have also stepped into the first team, having both been in the Derby squad managed by Lampard in the Championship last season.
The Blues have a good chance of progressing in the Champions League as well; winning their final two group games would guarantee passage into the knockout rounds.
Lampard faces a selection dilemma ahead of the trip to the champions, with the return to fitness of N’Golo Kante providing a number of different options in midfield.
So how will the Blues line up at the Etihad?
Kepa Arrizabalaga is a regular fixture in goal, with Kurt Zouma, Tomori and Emerson all establishing themselves as first-choice in their respective positions. Lampard faces a tough choice at right-back; Reece James has been excellent whenever he’s stepped into the team, but he’s got competition from club captain Cesar Azpilicueta in that position. Given the manager’s faith in youth, James may get the nod, using his physical strength and stature to try and deal with Raheem Sterling.
In midfield, Kante’s injury problems this season have left Mount, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic as the primary options at Lampard’s disposal. Now that the World Cup winner is back, he surely has to start in such a huge game. Mount may be the one missing out as Chelsea look for more steel in midfield against Pep Guardiola’s side.
After all, the former Leicester City man has made the most interceptions of any Blues player this season, so could be crucial in breaking up City’s possession-based game and help the visitors launch a counter-attack.
Tammy Abraham’s form was backed up by a first England goal over the international break and Callum Hudson-Odoi should flank him given Christian Pulisic’s injury. Indeed, the England international’s 1.7 key passes per game (via WhoScored) provides an element of creativity, something lost if someone such as Mount were to be dropped to accommodate for the aforementioned Kante.
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