Chelsea XIs for Burnley clash: Mudryk and Madueke start, midfield wildcard, Sterling dropped

Chelsea XIs for Burnley clash: Mudryk and Madueke start, midfield wildcard, Sterling dropped

After the final international break of the 2023/24 season, Premier League football returns this weekend.

For Chelsea, they take on a struggling Burnley side to begin an 11-game stretch between now and the end of the league season. The Blues have won five of their last eight matches in all competitions with Mauricio Pochettino’s side showing signs of improvement after losing to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the start of last month.

The west Londoners will face a different sort of challenge on Saturday against a Clarets team fighting for their lives to remain in the top-flight. Either way, given the recent form, Chelsea should really fancy themselves this weekend.

However, the injury situation at Stamford Bridge has gone from bad to worse in recent days. Earlier in the week, it was confirmed that Romeo Lavia will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a setback in his recovery from a hamstring problem.

Then, around 24 hours later, Chelsea released their injury update to the public, with Trevoh Chalobah, Robert Sanchez and Carney Chukwuemeka all added to the list. Likewise, Ben Chilwell, Cole Palmer and Enzo Fernandez will all be assessed ahead of this weekend’s match.

Pochettino has an awful lot of tricky decisions to make for Saturday’s game. With that said, Bobby Vincent, Joe Doyle and Tom Coley give their verdict on what the Argentine head coach should do personnel-wise.

Bobby Vincent

Djordje Petrovic continues in goal. If there was every any doubt about that, the fact Sanchez is injured again just absolutely confirms Petrovic’s place in the team.

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Malo Gusto was suffering with a virus but seems to be okay to continue his great form on the right-hand side of a back-four. Chalobah is missing so there could be a return to the side for Thiago Silva, who has not featured at all for the Blues since the win over Crystal Palace on February 12. Alternatively, Benoit Badiashile is available for selection.

Marc Cucurella should continue at left-back. Chilwell picked up a knock while on international duty with England. Either way, Cucurella has been impressive on the left-hand side since returning from a lengthy injury layoff.

We await to see whether Enzo will be ready to play, but I would be tempted to drop Conor Gallagher into a deeper position alongside Moises Caicedo. That would also allow Pochettino to use another attacking option in what is essentially a front four.

Noni Madueke deserves to start after his recent excellent form for club and country. Palmer could be used in the middle, with Mykhailo Mudryk on the left of him. Raheem Sterling needs to come out of the side after what was a poor performance against Leicester City almost two weeks ago.

Bobby’s lineup: Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Silva, Cucurella; Gallagher, Caicedo; Madueke, Palmer, Mudryk; Jackson.

Joe Doyle

There’s not much left for Chelsea to play for in the league this season. Granted, there’s still the outside chance of securing some European football, but in reality it’s unlikely they’ll be able to get into a top competition.

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While throwing the entire team out isn’t exactly an option, I think a game against Burnley offers Pochettino the chance to experiment a bit.

In goal, Petrovic is the obvious choice after establishing himself as first choice, even if Sanchez wasn’t injured.

In defence, he has to really field what he has; while Reece James and Levi Colwill are back in training, there’s no point risking injury to get them back quickly now. So it’s Gusto at right-back, Disasi and Badiashile at centre-back, and Cucurella at left-back following Chilwell’s dead leg.

With Enzo arriving back from international duty so close to gameday after playing in Los Angeles, I’d rest him and change things up. Cesare Casadei starts in a three alongside Caicedo and Gallagher.

On the right, I think Madueke deserves a chance to show what he can do. His club appearances this season have been too fleeting to really build up a head of steam. On the left, Mudryk starts, and I’m playing Palmer as a false nine – making him hard to pick up and getting plenty of players forward to assist. I think it offers something different, and it’s not like Chelsea’s results have been great this season; you might as well try something interesting.

Joe’s lineup: Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Badiashile, Cucurella; Caicedo, Gallagher, Casadei; Madueke, Palmer, Mudryk.

Tom Coley

Chelsea still have a core of players in form despite the ongoing injury problems and Pochettino should stick with what has been working. Sanchez’s problem need not make much difference as Petrovic has proven himself to be the number one already.

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Gusto spending time at Cobham is a positive even if he was ill to start the break, he has been in fine form and there’s no reason to take him out. Disasi’s last match at Stamford Bridge did bring about a comical own goal but he retains his place with the absence of other alternatives.

Thiago Silva could come in to replace Trevoh Chalobah (fitness depending) but Benoit Badiashile is the better option. He hasn’t played for a while now but knows Disasi well and this looks a favourable fixture to in. Even a hint of a problem for Chilwell should see him rested at least, Cucurella was solid against Leicester.

If Fernandez is fit then maybe there’s an argument to start him but Gallagher and Caicedo have been a good pairing against lower league opposition and this allows for more attackers. Chukwuemeka’s availability plays a big role in this, bit if he’s fit then offering a start is essential.

Palmer obviously plays on the right and Mudryk’s promising displays for club and country get him in on the left. If Chukwuemeka is out then Pochettino could play Mudryk centrally with Sterling on the left, alternatively, he could but Palmer centrally, Sterling or Madueke on the right, and Mudryk left.

Whatever happens, Jackson is starting up front. He scored a lovely goal in the reverse fixture and has found a level of consistency to his game that should thrive against a relegation-fodder defence.

Tom’s lineup: Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Badiashile, Cucurella; Gallagher, Caicedo; Palmer, Chukwuemeka, Mudryk, Jackson.

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