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Tuchel makes eight changes, 22-year-old plays for just the fourth time: Chelsea predicted XI vs Zenit

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Thomas Tuchel might want to reorganise virtually his entire Chelsea team for tomorrow’s Champions League trip to Zenit St Petersburg.

The Blues are already through to the knockout rounds of the competition, meaning less weight is riding upon this particular European bout.

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Top spot remains up for grabs, yet the necessity to claim all three points has been lowered.

This takes some pressure off Tuchel and those players he decides to give a run out on Wednesday evening.

We expect several peripheral stars to get their shot, alongside a few familiar returning faces.

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Here’s our predicted Chelsea XI to face Zenit:

Defence

As to adhere to the demands of Blues fans, we have included Kepa Arrizabalaga in this line-up as the goalkeeping replacement for Edouard Mendy.

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Kepa has been largely kept in the shadows this season, along with Malang Sarr, 22, who could earn just his fourth competitive appearance for Chelsea in place of Antonio Rudiger at the back.

Andreas Christensen is the only member of the defence to keep his place from the West Ham United defeat last weekend.

Christensen moves centrally, whilst Thiago Silva makes way for Cesar Azpilicueta.

Midfield  

Due to Marcos Alonso and Ben Chilwell’s respective injuries, Tuchel might have no choice but to field Saul Niguez at left-wing back.

The boss has hinted at a positional change for Saul, so this could be the perfect opportunity to fulfil his prophecy.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains in midfield, with Ross Barkley beside him, due to the uncertainty around Jorginho’s fitness.

Reece James stays put at right-wing back.

Attack

Expect a trio of changes to the forward line.

Out comes Kai Havertz – who is a doubt after being removed at West Ham – and in comes Romelu Lukaku, a man searching for his first start since October.

Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech step aside for Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Chelsea predicted XI vs Zenit: Kepa; Sarr, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Saul, Loftus-Cheek, Barkley, James; Pulisic, Lukaku, Hudson-Odoi

 

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