Tammy Abraham’s monstrous display may have reinvigorated the groundswell of youthful optimism after the international break, but consistency is the key to establishing a legacy and Valencia could well prove a thankless task for Frank Lampard as he seeks to record his first victory on home soil.
Whether or not injuries to N’Golo Kante and Emerson forced Lampard’s hand, the decision to move to a 3-4-3 had all the rose-tinted presage and peripeteia of Chelsea’s infamous second-half shut out against Arsenal, as Marcos Alonso was restored to his former glory alongside a gun-slinging front line spearheaded by a number nine with a ruthless vendetta spurring him on.
There are still issues surrounding a defence uncomfortable at set-pieces and rash in their decision making when Antonio Rudiger is absent, but the positive signs far outweighed any lingering concentration issues that Saturday’s result may have thrown up, and Chelsea will need to build on this newfound confidence in order to kickstart their Champions League campaign.
Here is our predicted XI for Tuesday’s tie with Valencia.
By far and away Chelsea’s number one, Kepa’s only shortcoming is his inability to organise his defence from set-pieces. With Rudiger still struggling with injury, his intervention is pivotal.
After scoring his first goal for Chelsea at the weekend, Tomori will be required to build on some impressive defensive numbers and make the step up to European football. A daunting task, but one he seems more than capable of overcoming.
One of the few players with Champions League experience and at the centre of Chelsea’s defence, he will be responsible for holding a good line and instructing his teammates when to engage and when to sit back. With more options on the ball, Christensen is able to produce some more expansive passes and progress the ball from deep.
With Rudiger’s injury confirmed to have ruled him out of Tuesday’s game, Zouma will be drafted in to cover, and the Frenchman has a big 90 minutes ahead of him if he is to play any part in Chelsea’s long-term future.
Persisting with the wing-back formation Azpilicueta looked far less vulnerable and he will surely be given another chance to impress against Valencia. His Champions League experience will prove invaluable.
Among all the talk of academy players coming to the fore against Wolves, a long-overdue milestone was finally reached as Jorginho collected his first Premier League assist. The Italian has looked imperious for much of this season, and he was duly rewarded for another dynamic display at the weekend.
Kovacic has proved to be an able deputy to the injured Kante this season, averaging more than 50 passes per game as well as driving the play forward with nearly two dribbles per game.
Will be the most relieved player in the dressing room should Lampard continue to use a 3-4-3 formation. Against Wolves Alonso looked back to his best, laying on an assist for Abraham’s second goal as well as ensuring the pacy Adama Traore never broke in behind.
By far his best performance of the season at the weekend. Despite being on the periphery of the game he was able to draw fouls and get beyond his marker, creating space and crossing opportunities for both him and his teammates.
Another quite superb performance from Abraham who has settled into his role at a frightening pace. Champions League football tends to be far more technical and less expansive than the Premier League, so Lampard will need to ensure his wing-backs and inside forwards are providing support through the use of overlaps and underlaps.
Even though Mason Mount added another goal to his collection at the weekend, Christian Pulisic seems a safe option considering his vast Champions League experience and technical prowess. He is also a more natural wide man and is well versed in playing with overlapping wing-backs.