How Chelsea could line-up at Zenit in Champions League with Malang Sarr getting chance to impress and Saul at WING-BACK
CHELSEA boss Thomas Tuchel may be forced to make wholesale changes for Wednesday night's Champions League clash with Zenit St Petersburg.
The Blues are enduring a mini-crisis following a spate of injuries and a frustrating 3-2 defeat at West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday, having twice led.
With matches coming thick and fast and some key players already ruled out through injury, Tuchel is likely to make a number of changes to his starting XI in Russia.
Most-notably, loan flop Saul Niguez may be forced to fill in at left-wing-back in the absence of Ben Chilwell and Marcos Alonso.
Chilwell is out until the New Year with a knee injury, while Alonso – who played through the pain at the Hammers – is struggling with an injury of his own.
Callum Hudson-Odoi could be an option to start in their place.
But after the 2-1 win over Watford – in which Saul started only to be hauled off at half-time, such was his ineffectiveness – Tuchel hinted the Spaniard could do a job in the role.
Tuchel claimed: "I think that he could play in a wing-back role for us.
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"If we play in a dominant game, an offensive game, he is very strong in arriving in the opponents’ box and very strong in finishing – he has good timing to arrive at the second post for the header.
"He sometimes does this in training which is why we think he could be a good fit and maybe in the next games we have to try because Chilly is out long-term and there are a lot of games are coming."
Saul, 27, has played just 297 minutes across seven games since his loan move from Atletico Madrid.
Meanwhile, Malang Sarr is expected to start as Tuchel rotates his defence.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is expected to relieve Edouard Mendy for a game after a pair of blunders in the defeat at the London Stadium.
Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to start alongside Sarr and Andreas Christensen in a back-three, with Trevoh Chalobah, Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva rested.
Reece James is almost certain to start at right-wing-back, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the middle of the park.
Jorginho is another big-name player struggling with a knock and with Mateo Kovacic and N'Golo Kante also injured, Ross Barkley could be roped in to start alongside Loftus-Cheek.
In attack, Romelu Lukaku is set to start after coming off the bench against the Hammers with Kai Havertz forced off at half-time with what Tuchel called 'big pain'.
Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic could start behind Lukaku, with Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi also vying for a start.
Chelsea take on Zenit St Petersburg in Russia on Wednesday, with kick off 5.45pm.
The Blues will want to take top spot, currently level with Juventus on 12 points apiece going into the final game.
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