Thomas Tuchel has partnered Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku in the Chelsea attack from the start for the first time for the visit of Manchester City, who have a number of stars back fit.
Chelsea head into Saturday’s Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge top of the table, three points ahead of champions City.
The Blues have beaten City in all three meetings since Tuchel took charge – including the Champions League final – and are looking to become the first side to defeat Pep Guardiola in four consecutive matches.
But Tuchel has mixed things up for this game, shifting from his usual 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 formation, including N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in central midfield after the trio excelled in the second half of last week’s 3-0 win at Tottenham.
Most notably, that switch has created space for Werner in the front line next to record signing Lukaku.
Werner assisted Antonio Rudiger’s strike at Spurs and then scored in the midweek EFL Cup tie against Aston Villa, as he aims to build on a disappointing 2020-21 campaign in which his 12 goals hugely underperformed his 21.1 expected goals.
The Germany forward and Lukaku have only previously played 61 minutes together so far in all competitions, although Chelsea have netted two goals and conceded none in that time.
Thiago Silva – outstanding at Tottenham – only made Tuchel’s bench, but Edouard Mendy was passed fit to start in goal, facing an attack-minded City line-up.
Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden each came in for their first league starts of the season, yet it was Gabriel Jesus – playing from the right in the early stages of the campaign – who looked set to lead the line.
Guardiola had named a different midfield for all three prior meetings with Tuchel’s Chelsea in 2021 but has reverted back to Rodri, who started the league defeat.
In a familiar 4-3-3, Aymeric Laporte was also cleared to line up alongside Ruben Dias.