Pochettino believes Chelsea are ‘building something’
Chelsea host Arsenal on Saturday afternoon as the Blues look to make it three wins on the bounce after a torrid start to their Premier League campaign. The west Londoners find themselves in 11th place in England’s top-flight. Although recent performances indicate that their fortunes may be changing only two of their players make our combined Arsenal-Chelsea XI ahead of what will surely be a tall order for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Goalkeeper – Raya
David Raya starts between the sticks for the combined XI after a decent start to life at the Emirates. The Spaniard dropped a couple of clangers against Lens and Man City but has been excellent in his other outings for Arsenal and shone for Brentford last season. Robert Sanchez and Aaron Ramsdale both miss out by narrow margins.
Defence – James, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko
Reece James is the first Chelsea player to make the team. Despite one-and-a-half fantastic seasons at right-back for the Gunners, Ben White isn’t quite of the same calibre as his fellow countryman, who is arguably the best right-back in the world when fit.
The formidable centre-back pairing of William Saliba and Gabriel Magahales starts down the middle with Oleksandr Zinchenko on the left. Last season, Thiago Silva would have been nailed on to make the XI but a dip in form this year means he is excluded. Levi Colwill was up for consideration after a promising start to life as a senior player for his boyhood club but is still a tad raw.
Midfield – Rice, Fernandez, Odegaard
Enzo Fernandez is the second member of Chelsea’s squad that makes our combined XI. The 22-year-old has been one of the Blues’ stand-out players since joining in January following a stellar World Cup campaign with Argentina.
He lines up next to the formidable Declan Rice with Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard sitting ahead of them in the midfield trio. Rice’s selection speaks for itself. The Englishman topped the Premier League charts for progressive carries last season and was only beaten by Rodri for the number of times he won back possession for his team.
Under the watchful eye of Mikel Arteta, he looks to have gone up an extra gear and is unquestionably one of Arsenal’s most important players. Odegaard is also an obvious pick. His outstanding goal contribution numbers and eye for a killer pass rival any Premier League player in the centre of the park.
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Attack – Saka, Jesus, Martinelli
There is no place for a single Chelsea player in the front three. Raheem Sterling comes the closest to breaking into the side after finally finding his feet at Stamford Bridge but it is Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli who make the line-up.
Saka and Martinelli were both near the top of the Premier League scoring charts last season and have continued their fine run of form in the 2023/2024 campaign. Jesus’ numbers aren’t quite as impressive as his team-mates’ but the Brazilian’s relentless work rate and tricky dribbling cause all kinds of problems for opposition defenders.
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