Attacking reshuffle as 29-year-old starts in Conte 3-4-3: Best possible Chelsea XI v Man United
By Will Butcher
Antonio Conte should hand Cesc Fabregas a place in his Chelsea starting eleven to face Man United on Sunday at Old Trafford.
In a match that could have huge consequences on the top end of the Premier League, Chelsea must look to avoid defeat in a difficult away game against Jose Mourinho’s side.
With Tottenham breathing down their necks, gaining a point could prove crucial. Sacrificing a forward to include another midfielder in Fabregas, then, could keep Spurs at bay.
Spain international and former Arsenal ace Fabregas would join Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante in the middle of the park, allowing Eden Hazard to join Diego Costa in attack.
However, that would see Pedro drop to the bench against United, as Chelsea look to put one hand on the Premier League trophy against their former manager.
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Thibaut Courtois will keep Asmir Begovic on the substitutes’ bench, as he looks to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic from finding the back of the net.
A 15th clean sheet could be on the cards for Courtois, and he will need his defence’s help in stopping the likes of Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Conte has gained plaudits for his tactical consistency in naming Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta at the back, who have helped the Blues concede just 25 goals in 31 games.
In front of them will be Matic and Kante, who continue to cover each other’s weaknesses while former Barcelona ace Fabregas will be allowed a touch more freedom in front of the midfield.
Out wide, wing-backs Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses will be relied upon to provide width once again as they enjoy their careers’ best year under Conte.
Eden Hazard will be looking for knockdowns and flicks to run onto in behind from Diego Costa, as the duo look to combine to put United’s makeshift defence to the sword.
Three points for Conte’s west London giants will see them place one hand on the Premier League trophy, maintaining a seven-point buffer between them and Spurs.