Chelsea: Tuchel and Giroud chat during training
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Chelsea will go into Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final clash against Premier League basement boys Sheffield United with every chance of sealing their place in the last four of the competition. Thomas Tuchel remains unbeaten since replacing Frank Lampard at the helm in January, with the Blues conceding just two goals in all competitions under his guidance.
Express Sport takes a look at the Chelsea side that could line up against the Blades at Stamford Bridge.
Goalkeeper – Arrizabalaga
Kepa Arrizabalaga is likely to be handed a starting spot in place of Edouard Mendy, as was the case for Chelsea’s win over Championship high-flyers Barnsley in the previous round.
He enjoyed a strong performance in that game, keeping a crucial clean sheet to help the Blues seal a slender 1-0 win over the Yorkshire outfit.
The Spaniard has only played eight times this season as a result of Mendy’s stronghold on the No 1 shirt.
However, he will have another great chance to argue his case against Sheffield United, who have scored just 25 goals in all competitions this season.
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Defence – Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen
Skipper Cesar Azpilicueta has played every minute in the Premier League under Tuchel, returning to the side after being left out in favour of Reece James under Lampard.
He will be partnered at the back by Andreas Christensen, while Kurt Zouma could get a game after playing a bit-part role in recent outings.
The Frenchman has been left on the bench for five of Chelsea’s last seven league matches but may be in line to start on Sunday in order to provide Antonio Rudiger with a welcome break.
The trio should face little difficulty in dealing with the likes of David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp up top for the visitors if they can continue the club’s recent trend of strong defensive performances.
Midfield – Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell
Tuchel is likely to go with a number of strong options in the middle of the park in order to avoid derailing his side’s positive momentum by winning the technical battle.
The pairing of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic should remain intact, although there is a chance that Billy Gilmour could make a rare appearance.
However, the young Scot is likely to be forced to settle for a place on the bench.
Meanwhile, the wing-back positions could be taken up by Callum Hudson-Odoi, who has struggled to adapt to the role at times, and former Leicester City man Ben Chilwell despite Emerson Palmieri’s goalscoring contribution in midweek.
Attack – Pulisic, Werner, Giroud
Veteran striker Olivier Giroud is expected to lead the line for Chelsea after making a number of important contributions for the Blues when called upon this season.
Tammy Abraham, who has failed to even make the bench in recent weeks, has recovered from an ankle injury but is likely to be overlooked for the visit of the Blades.
Giroud could be flanked by Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic, who has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool as of late.
If Tuchel decides to rest Mason Mount, the United States international will be looking to either prove his worth to the Blues or put on a strong transfer audition with an influential performance on Sunday.
Expected Chelsea XI vs Sheffield United – Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell; Pulisic, Werner, Giroud
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