Pre-season is over, not long now until FPL is back and the agony and ecstasy it brings returns! I’ve spent the last month or so watching every minute of Chelsea’s pre-season, so hopefully, I’ll pass on one or two useful points. In this article, I’ll cover pre-season, the likely starting XI, the injuries, players to target and some to avoid.
The Blues are a very interesting team FPL wise, with no player priced higher than £7.5 they look set to provide managers with lots of value options as the season progresses.
Chelsea played seven games in pre-season winning four, drawing two and losing one. They had no trouble scoring, finding the back of the net 18 times but defensive frailties emerged. Conceding 8 times in the last 3 games. Barkley top scored with 4, Mason Mount had 3.
The pre-season has seen Chelsea largely work on a 4-2-3-1 formation. The fullbacks are expected to pull their weight in attack and bomb forward as Derby’s did last season. When defending the team lines up in a 4-4-2 with the number 10 (Mount or Barkley) up high next to the striker as an extra outlet. There have been shades of Sarri’s work on the team, the defence along with Jorginho/Kovacic routinely invites the press then plays their way out of tight spaces before exploiting the gaps in midfield.
Predicted GW1 line up:
Azpi – Luiz – Zouma – Emerson
Kovacic – Jorginho
Pedro – Barkley – Pulisic
*Kante will come in for Kovacic if passed fit but he only played his first minutes of pre-season on Saturday.
What impact will the injured players have going forward?
Currently, Rudiger, Reece James, Willian and Hudson-Odoi are all in the treatment room at Cobham nursing short term injuries. I’d expect all 4 to be pushing for places before the first international break. Hudson-Odoi is someone I can see breaking into the team ahead of Pedro before too long. With Rudiger, we will have to wait and see how Zouma/Christensen does next to Luiz. By the end of the campaign, it wouldn’t surprise me if Reece James is taking minutes of Azpilicueta due to his superior crossing ability, a key part of Lampard’s style.
Long term Loftus-Cheek will no doubt be a key part of Lampard’s plans when fit but we don’t have to worry about that yet!
Potential FPL options:
Mr reliable Azpilicueta (£6.0) is a safe steady pick, he’ll get you 4/5 assists and 15 sheets, nothing spectacular but he’ll tick over. Emerson (£5.5) perhaps offers a bit more going forward and is slightly cheaper, definitely one to watch.
For the riskier among you perhaps a punt on Zouma (£5.0)? A very cheap way into a top-six defence with two promoted sides before the first international break! Comes with the obvious caveat of Christensen (£5.0) however.
Pre-season bandwagon Ross Barkley (£6.0) is one to consider. He’s had a blinding pre-season scoring and creating goals, playing full of confidence! Add the fact he’s probably on pens, at least until Willian’s back and he’s very tempting. Don’t forget this is a man who is capable of 150+ FPL points (15/16)! However, the second-best Chelsea player in pre-season happened to be his rival for the number 10 role and Lampard favorite Mason Mount. If you go with Barkley be wary of rotation, especially after the Super Cup next week.
Christian Pulisic (£7.5) is a shiny new option for FPL managers. He had a decent good pre-season scoring twice and winning a penalty against Salzburg. He looks to have settled in well with his new teammates especially Barkley. The two have linked up impressively in the latter stages of pre-season. A big threat with his runs in behind.
Jorginho (£5.0) has a slightly more attacking role this year, expect him to break his assist duck before long having recorded an xA of over 5 last season. He just needs someone to finish the chances! A good 5th midfielder even if the penalty dream has disappeared.
Loftus-Cheek (£6.5) and Hudson-Odoi (£6.0) are two to put on the watchlist when fit. I expect they will be in a lot of teams after Christmas!
The only option to consider here is Tammy Abraham (£7.0), the preferred man at the moment. Started 3 out of the last 4 friendlies with goals in two of them. Giroud looks to Lampard’s ‘super sub’ while Batshuayi was left at home for the last friendly (training with Drinkwater & Bakayoko…) The Englishman is a decent creative force he’s a good dribbler and looks to get others in the game. Smashed the Championship twice and will be desperate the take his long-awaited chance at Chelsea.
Players to avoid:
Marcos Alonso (£6.5)
Despite being an FPL community favourite, justifiably so, it appears a Chelsea manager has finally seen light when it comes to his defensive capabilities! In pre-season he never played more than 45 minutes in a match with Emerson preferred for last two friendlies in strong starting teams.
Olivier Giroud (£7.0)
Tipped by a few earlier on as potentially a but pre-season has extinguished any hopes of him being a viable asset for the time being. Only one pre-season start in which he was hooked at half time. It appears Lampard prefers a quicker striker who can run in behind and sees the Frenchman as more of a super sub.
No doubt Chelsea will, once things settle down, provide FPL managers with a great source of reliable points at a very tasty price. The first 2 GWs (United away and Leicester at home) give us a chance to have a look at Lampard’s team. The UEFA Super Cup between these two GWs makes Chelsea assets less appealing, a trip to Turkey could mean rotation or at the very least reduced minutes. After GW2 Chelsea embark on a wonderful run of fixtures facing only 2 of the top 6 up to GW18, that looks to be the time to jump on.
Finally, big thanks to FPL Academia for inviting me to preview Chelsea. If you want more details on any Chelsea pre-season games, I’ve got threads on them all. Any further questions find me on Twitter – @FPL_physio!