Chelsea could finally rekindle some of their former verve as the west London outfit prepares to take on relegation-threatened Leeds United at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League this afternoon, and both sides will be eyeing all three points.
The mid-table Blues have fallen by the wayside this season, with manager Graham Potter boasting just two victories from the past 15 outings across all competitions, and the previous home encounter resulted in a chastening defeat to bottom club Southampton.
The Whites, in retrospect, defeated Saints in their previous divisional outing before falling to high-flying Fulham in the FA Cup, and new boss Javi Gracia will be quietly confident that the Yorkshire outfit can pull off a major upset to calm the roiling waters of their turbulent campaign.
With further woes eradicating all chance of a late surge for Champions League qualification, the Blues must now rally together, though they will have to complete the feat without Thiago Silva, who has been ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury.
Could Chelsea salvage top-four this season?
Cobham graduates Reece James and Mason Mount are both nursing respective problems and might not feature, but Potter can take solace in welcoming back assiduous midfielder Mateo Kovacic to the fray.
What could Chelsea look like against Leeds?
Considering this, here is the line-up that Football FanCast predicts Chelsea will field against United, with three changes expected from the starting eleven that fell to defeat against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
4-3-3 – (GK) Kepa; (RB) James, (CB) Fofana, (CB) Koulibaly, (LB) Chilwell; (CM) Loftus-Cheek, (CM) Fernandez; (RW) Madueke, (AM) Felix, (LW) Mudryk; (ST) Havertz.
The injury to Silva could warrant the inclusion of £75m titan, Wesley Fofana, while the Stamford Bridge faithful will be hopeful that James can overcome his issue with stalwart Cesar Azpilicueta still out due to concussion protocols.
As for the midfield, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and British record £107m signing Enzo Fernandez will continue to nurture their central partnership, with the respective skillsets already looking promising.
The “dream” Hakim Ziyech – as dubbed by Frank Khalid – will return to the bench, having featured prominently over the past few weeks. Replacing the Moroccan, Noni Madueke’s pace and directness could pay dividends against a robust Leeds defence; winter arrival Mykhaylo Mudryk could be offered a starting berth having yet to score or assist from six outings for the Blues.
Up front, Kai Havertz will continue to offer his dynamic abilities, although he will be hoping to score after netting just six times from 32 appearances across all competitions this season.