Attention turns to the Carabao Cup for Chelsea as they welcome managerless Everton to Stamford Bridge in what promises to be an entertaining all-Premier League tie.
With the winner of this match only three games away from a Wembley cup final, the intensity of the competition is heating up, and with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal having already booked their places in the quarterfinals, both teams will be desperate to progress.
Antonio Conte was praised for his willingness to experiment (eventually) against Watford as the Blues scraped past the Hornets in an entertaining clash last time out. His trademark 3-4-3 formation seems well suited against Everton – who like to play through central areas and Chelsea will look to exploit the Toffees with the width provided by a 3-4-3.
The Carabao Cup presents the perfect opportunity for Conte to rotate his squad, with the Blues currently ravaged with injury and their priorities lying with the Premier League and the Champions League.
Willy Caballero looks set to be given his second League Cup start of the season, in a competition he famously won for Manchester City with his penalty heroics in 2016.
Davide Zappacosta was a substitute against Watford but should get a starting berth at right wing-back here, whilst Andreas Christensen, Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger could forge a defensive trio at in the centre of the pitch with David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta set to be rested.
Marcos Alonso’s workload looks to have caught up with him in recent weeks and he will surely be rotated for Kenedy – who scored in the previous round against Nottingham Forest.
Danny Drinkwater, N’Golo Kante and Victor Moses are all injured meaning the midfield options at Conte’s disposal are a little lighter than usual. Cesc Fabregas is another who has had a heavy workload in recent times but the Spaniard could be needed to play a screening role here with Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ethan Ampadu as options from the bench.
Charly Musonda also scored in the last round and looks set to be given an offensive role in midfield alongside Willian, who impressed off the bench against Watford.
Alvaro Morata is making his way back to full fitness following a hamstring strain and could lead the line with the two-goal hero from Saturday, Michy Batshuayi, flanking him in an experimental front line for Conte, with Pedro and Eden Hazard as alternates on the bench if creative flair is needed.
Predicted Starting XI
Where the Game Will Be Won or Lost
Chelsea have struggled to keep opposition attacks at bay this season and could have a stern test here against an Everton side who have a point to prove following the departure of Ronald Koeman. Provided they can keep a strong hold on the game and keep possession, Chelsea possess too many attacking options for the Toffees and will want to put the game to bed as early as possible.
Everton will arrive at Stamford Bridge with a purpose following the turmoil at the club over the weekend, but Antonio Conte has spoken of his wish to stay in the competition and continue to fight on four fronts for as long as possible this season.
Chelsea 3 – 1 Everton