Antonio Conte is likely to field a heavily rotated starting eleven as Hull City pay Stamford Bridge a visit in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Friday.
Chelsea are already out of the EFL Cup and do not stand a realistic chance of winning the Premier League. With Barcelona their opponents in the Champions League Round of 16 tie, FA Cup presents their best chance of winning any silverware this season. And Antonio Conte has iterated that Chelsea are set to take the FA Cup seriously.
However, with the Barcelona tie in mind and the fixture set to start a gruesome run of games, Conte is likely to rotate heavily against Hull City on Friday. The FA Cup tie is likely to see most of the key stars rested.
Willy Caballero should be deputised in goal while Gary Cahill should return to the lineup. Another star that could be a part of the back-three is Andreas Christensen, who returned against West Brom but should be rested, keeping the Barcelona tie in mind, which means Ethan Ampadu and Antonio Rudiger are likely to make up the numbers at the back.
Marcos Alonso should not be risked for the FA Cup tie, with Emerson Palmieri and Davide Zappacosta the prime candidates to be deployed on either flank. The injuries to Ross Barkley and Tiemoue Bakayoko should see Danny Drinkwater partner N’Golo Kante in midfield.
Eden Hazard will likely be one of the stars to be handed a well-deserved rest and we could see Callum Hudson-Odoi getting a start on Friday. Upfront though, Antonio Conte confirmed in the pre-match conference that Alvaro Morata is expected to feature in some capacity in the FA Cup tie against Hull City, but hinted at a possible start for Olivier Giroud.
“Now he [Morata] is training with us every day and his physical condition is improving. Tomorrow he will play a part of the game and he will be ready for the game against Barcelona. Alvaro is a player with a good responsibility and good maturity. Competition is good for the team. A great team must have competition in every position.”
“For us, Giroud is a good option. He’s very strong, he’s a powerful player and he can help us for the rest of the season.”
Hull City could spring up a surprise and it will be interesting to see the dynamic of the rotated lineup and how they are able to connect to each other on the field.