Thomas Tuchel has several new fitness issues to deal with ahead of the short trip to Vicarage Road. On Wednesday, the Chelsea manager might have to make do without as many as six first-team players.
Ben Chilwell (knee), Mateo Kovacic (hamstring) and N’Golo Kante (knee) are all certain to miss out against Watford. In addition, Tuchel has major concerns over the possible availability of Reece James, Jorginho and Timo Werner, with the trio recovering from knocks and requiring late fitness tests to determine whether they will be able to feature for Chelsea.
Tuchel might also take the Watford game as an opportunity to rest a few players, with James likely to be on the bench even if he is passed fit. In his stead, captain Cesar Azpilicueta should return and start as the right wing-back. However, if available, Jorginho should be stationed in the middle of the park, fresh off being named in the Ballon d’Or top three.
The Italian international will likely have Ruben Loftus-Cheek for company in the double pivot again, with Marcos Alonso and Azpilicueta completing Chelsea’s second line of press. Up ahead in attack, Romelu Lukaku will make his first start since completely recovering from an ankle injury.
Lukaku will lead the line for Chelsea against Watford, with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic playing off him. At the back, Thiago Silva could be due a rest, which will allow Andreas Christensen to return to the side, starting alongside Trevoh Chalobah and Antonio Rudiger in the central defensive partnership. Finally, Edouard Mendy is a certainty between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic; Lukaku