A plethora of attacking options, TWO new faces in midfield but a number of outgoings still to come… how Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea side could line up for the rest of the season

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After months of preparations and planning, Chelsea kick-started their new era with  a 1-1 draw against Liverpool on Sunday.

It was the first competitive game of Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure as Blues boss and provided the first opportunity to see his new-look line-up. 

There were a host of new faces on the pitch at Stamford Bridge as the likes of Nicolas Jackson, Axel Disasi and others made their respective debuts for the club. 

The Blues have made seven signings in total thus far and are on the verge of another, with Romeo Lavia close to joining, as they look to bolster their squad this year.

See also  Milan lose Tomori for at least two months

And so, here, Mail Sport takes a look at the possible ways Chelsea may line-up this year and the players who could still be set to leave the club. 

Chelsea kick-started their Premier League campaign with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool

Chelsea kick-started their Premier League campaign with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool

Mauricio Pochettino took charge of the Blues for the first time since his appointment in May

Mauricio Pochettino took charge of the Blues for the first time since his appointment in May

FIRST POSSIBLE XI 

After their lucrative spending over the last 12 months, Chelsea now boast an incredibly bloated first-team squad.

And, with just three competitions in their 2023-24 schedule, there could be a real fight for starting places within Pochettino’s side. 

On one hand, Pochettino could field the following XI: Sanchez; James, Silva, Colwill, Chilwell; Enzo, Caicedo; Sterling, Nkunku, Mudryk; Jackson. 

It’s not too dissimilar from the side that faced Liverpool on Sunday afternoon but, instead, includes new recruit Caicedo, injured star Nkunku and Mykailo Mudryk.

After splashing out a staggering £222million on just Caicedo and Fernandez, it seems improbable that they don’t partner each other in midfield next year. 

And many will hope that Caicedo’s big-money move will turn Chelsea’s fortunes around and help them to kick on and secure a place in Europe next season. 

In goal, it seems as though Robert Sanchez will be their No. 1, though there have been rumours that the Blues are still keen on bringing in a new first-choice keeper. 

The Spaniard secured a £25million move from Brighton earlier in the window but not many would have expected them to be their only goalkeeper this season.

In defence, the only new face will be Levi Colwill, who returned to Chelsea following an impressive loan spell with Brighton last year. 

Chelsea confirmed the signing of Moises Caicedo for a British transfer record

Chelsea confirmed the signing of Moises Caicedo for a British transfer record

Mail Sport has drafted up a potential Chelsea XI that Pochettino could field this season

Mail Sport has drafted up a potential Chelsea XI that Pochettino could field this season

If the England international is able to replicate that same form that he did for the Seagulls, then he’ll likely be a mainstay in the side this year. 

And, although Chelsea adopted a 5-3-2 for the clash against the Reds, it’s likely that could revert to a 4-2-3-1 – which is a formation favoured by Pochettino – once Nkunku returns from injury. 

Nkunku, who secured a £53m to Chelsea, has been ruled out until December after requiring surgery on his knee. 

The France international was the top goalscorer in the Bundesliga last season, with 16 goals, and will look to bring that form with him when he returns to the pitch.

One aspect of this particular side that could appeal to Pochettino is the youthful nature of the starting XI – which boasts an average age of 24.7.

With 38-year-old Thiago Silva factored into the that, the line-up’s average age remains far greater than it would be without the veteran Brazilian.

In terms of their goal threat, the front-four combined managed 31 goals in all competitions from 2022-23, which could be bettered under Pochettino’s guidance. 

Levi Colwill will stay at Chelsea despite his initial desires to return to Brighton

Christopher Nkunku will have to wait until December to get his first Chelsea appearance

Defender Levi Colwill (L) and Christopher Nkunku (R) could prove vital for the Blues this year

SECOND POSSIBLE XI 

Incredibly, Chelsea are able – if they wanted – to field an entirely different XI of first-team players. 

If he so desired, Pochettino could instead field this team: Bettinelli; Gusto, Disasi, Badiashile, Maatsen; Gallagher, Lavia; Madueke, Chukwuemeka, Moreira; Broja.

Although it’s a side filled with youth talent, there are still a number of players who could feature end up featuring regularly for the Argentine boss.  

The likes of Gusto, Disasi, Lavia and Moreira are all new arrivals for the west London side who have been tipped for big things in the future.

Gusto and Disasi have already featured for the Blues – during their draw with Liverpool – with the former Monaco centre-back grabbing their only goal. 

Meanwhile, full-back Ian Maatsen enjoyed a successful loan spell with Burnley last season and has continued to impress during his pre-season outings.

Pochettino has used Maatsen in his typical defensive position as well as a winger or even a No. 10 player. The Netherlands U21 star has proved versatile and will likely feature as a bench player throughout the season. 

In midfield, Pochettino has the option to field a pivot consisting of Conor Gallagher and soon-to-be Blue Romeo Lavia.

Belgian international Lavia is close to joining the west London giants after he initially snubbed an offer from rivals Liverpool. 

Southampton starlet Romeo Lavia is closing in on a move to the west London giants

Southampton starlet Romeo Lavia is closing in on a move to the west London giants

The west London giants boast enough talent to field two strong starting line-ups

The west London giants boast enough talent to field two strong starting line-ups

Despite his willingness to join the Blues, it’s not a guarantee that Lavia walks into their first team and he may have to prepare himself for minutes on the bench this year given Caicedo and Fernandez’s arrivals.

The attacking options of Noni Madueke, Carney Chukwuemeka and Diego Moriera provide exciting, but young, prospects for Pochettino.

Chukwuemeka started the match against Liverpool recently but it’s expected that none of these three will be regular starters once the season progresses. 

Academy product Armando Broja spent the majority of last season on the sidelines after a serious knee injury during a friendly game in the World Cup break.

And, with six goals being his best return in a Premier League season, the 21-year-old is unlikely to find himself leading the line for the Blues.

Carney Chukwuemeka was one of the youngsters entrusted to play against Liverpool

Carney Chukwuemeka was one of the youngsters entrusted to play against Liverpool

WHO COULD STILL LEAVE?

As mentioned earlier, Chelsea have an incredibly bloated squad currently and need to ensure some outgoings prior to the window closing.

They’ve already seen a host of faces – such as Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly – leave the club but there could soon be more to follow.

Youngster Lewis Hall has drawn attention from Premier League sides Newcastle and Crystal Palace – with the Magpies keen on a permanent deal. 

Meanwhile, Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku could also leave this summer as he finds himself an outcast at Cobham and banished from training with the first-team.

A permanent return to Inter Milan once appeared his most likely destination, but the striker’s reported preference for a move to Serie A rivals Juventus ultimately failed to endear him to either sets of supporters.

Much like the ex-Man United star, winger Hakim Ziyech was also left out of the club’s pre-season tour of the USA with a departure expected to follow imminently. 

The Moroccan looked as though he would join Cristiano Ronaldo and Sadio Mane at Al-Nassr but the move collapsed when the Saudi Pro League club raised concerns following the discovery of a knee problem during his medical.

Lewis Hall is one of the Chelsea outcasts who could be set to leave the club this summer

Lewis Hall is one of the Chelsea outcasts who could be set to leave the club this summer 

After 15 years with the Blues since emerging from the club’s youth academy, Callum Hudson-Odoi is expected to depart this summer amid interest from Fulham, Lazio and multiple Saudi clubs.

Fellow former youth star Trevoh Chalobah is also expected to seek pastures new this summer, despite enjoying his most prolific campaign for the club last season, making 33 appearances in all competitions. 

Marc Cucurella arrived at Stamford Bridge for £62m amid much fanfare last summer, but despite reuniting with former Brighton boss Graham Potter struggled as the club limped to a worst Premier League finish in nearly three decades.

The Spain international remained on the bench for the club’s Premier League opener, and with Eddie Howe insistent on desiring another defender before the window closes a loan move to Newcastle appears increasingly likely.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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