Chelsea fans must have had their heart’s in their mouth’s on Tuesday.
It was certainly a nervy last 20 minutes as the Blues’ often leaky defence tried to hang on against a rejuvenated Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
They did crucially hold on however, to take all three points and nip into third spot in the table after Leicester’s draw with Arsenal. They now must build upon this positive result against a tricky opponent in Sheffield United.
With that in mind, let’s look at the starting XI that should start this Saturday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – The Spanish keeper has endured a difficult season, with many fans and experts questioning whether he will be between the sticks next year. Lampard seems to be fairly happy with him at the moment but with such a huge price tag, surely he must come up with something special in the remaining games to guarantee his future at the club.
Reece James (RB) – The former Wigan loanee has come a long way in a very short space of time and although he’s still not the best defensively, he has displayed some excellent attacking instincts. His powerful whipped crosses are always lapped up by Olivier Giroud and his pace is important for the counter attacks that the Blues’ utilise to great effect.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – The young Dane has recently spoken of his desire to stay at the club long term, however he’s lapses at the back this season may cost him that opportunity. While good on the ball, he still looks occasionally lightweight in the key moments – something that Lampard can’t afford if the team are to challenge for silverware next year.
Kurt Zouma (CB) – Many Chelsea fans believe that Zouma is the best centre-half at the club and after his display at Crystal Palace, it’s easy to see why. The Frenchman has looked formidable since coming in for Antonio Rudiger and despite speculation linking him with a move away this summer, has proven his value in recent outings.
Cesar Azpilicueta (LB) – The captain has been shifted from left to right and back again on numerous occasions this season; largely due to the fact that he is a more reliable left-back than the actual official left-backs at the club. Although not quite the player he once was, he is still incredibly hardworking and when he’s on the pitch, Chelsea look a better side.
Ross Barkley (CM) – Barkley is in last chance saloon in these remaining matches with the arrival of Kai Havertz looking increasingly likely by the day. He has been one of the best performers since the restart but he must now sustain his good form in order to remain in Lampard’s plans for next season.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – If fully fit, the return of Kovacic for this match will be key to stopping Sheffield United’s high press. The Croatian’s experience will be crucial for the remaining games, particularly if N’Golo Kante is absent.
Mason Mount (CM) – Mount has been electric since the resumption. The young Englishman has played the most Premier League games of any Chelsea player this season; which speaks volumes of Lampard’s trust in the guy.
Willian (RW) – The experienced Brazilian is definitely after a new contract. Only time will tell whether he stays beyond the end of the season, but either way he has given Chelsea fans a reminder of his undeniable quality in recent weeks.
Olivier Giroud (ST) – What a turnaround it’s been for the French striker, who looked set for the exit door in January. Now he is arguably Chelsea’s first choice striker and is playing a vital role in securing Champions League qualification for the club. A model professional, he has never complained when left out and his vast European experience has made him a real leader in the dressing room.
Christian Pulisic (LW) – Alongside Mason Greenwood, it’s hard to find a more in-form forward in the league right now. Pulisic has been electrifying for the Blues, scoring three and assisting two in five games since the restart. The boy from Hershey may not be quite Eden Hazard level just yet, but he’s really not far off.