Chalobah and Silva return, difficult Lukaku decision taken: Predicted Chelsea XI vs Burnley

For a couple of hours this afternoon in Lancashire, football can once again take centre stage for Chelsea. It’s been that sort of week for the club.

On Wednesday evening came a dramatic confirmation from Roman Abramovich that he intended to sell Chelsea after 19 years as owner. In the two days that followed, the news understandably dominated the agenda.

There remains huge uncertainty as to what – and who – comes next for the Blues. Prospective buyers are putting together official bids for the club and a consortium led by billionaire duo Hansjorg Wyss and Todd Boehly were expected to submit an offer this weekend.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel doesn’t know what lies ahead. How can he? All the German can do is ensure his side are ready to overcome Burnley at Turf Moor this afternoon.

“We think we know very well what is coming. There will be no presents for us there. We want to dig in and accept the fight,” Tuchel said during his pre-match press conference.

“Every team has its style. They have had huge success throughout the years and are very consistent in what they do and how they approach the games.

“It is very physical and very direct. It’s very direct upfront; a lot of crosses, very dangerous in set-pieces. That’s why we think we know what is coming.

“Still, we hold ourselves back and don’t allow too much to predict. Who knows exactly what is coming? In the end, it is to enable the players to find answers on the pitch and not today in the meeting.

“To prepare, yes, but in the end, they need to find the solutions and be well prepared in a very wide range of opportunities.”

Ben Chilwell and Cesar Azpilicueta are expected to miss the game but Chelsea have been boosted by the news Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah, Andreas Christensen and Hakim Ziyech have all returned to training since the FA Cup victory over Luton Town.

That gives Tuchel much-needed options from which to select his side. And there are a couple of big decisions for him to make.

Not in goal, however. Kepa Arrizabalaga started in midweek but is almost certain to be replaced in the starting XI by Edouard Mendy, whose height may prove important in limiting Burnley’s threat from set pieces.

Trevoh Chalobah should come back in on the right of the back three having overcome a nasty groin injury sustained in the Carabao Cup final while Thiago Silva is likely to be back in the middle. Antonio Rudiger will start once more on the left.

With Azpilicueta ruled out, Reece James may be handed his first start since the end of December. The academy graduate made his return from a torn hamstring last weekend.

Marcos Alonso would be the obvious candidate to come in at left wing-back, although the Spaniard is a doubt having missed the win over Luton.

The midfield duo is almost certainly going to be N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic after both were rested in midweek. In the attack, Hakim Ziyech may return on the right after injury and Christian Pulisic can move across to the left. Mason Mount can step out of the side having started the last two matches.

A big call Tuchel has to make is who spearheads the frontline. Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner both netted against Luton but Kai Havertz is expected to return to the side at Turf Moor.

Predicted Chelsea XI: Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Havertz, Pulisic

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