AFC Wimbledon vs. Chelsea: How the Blues Will Line Up

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AFC Wimbledon vs. Chelsea: How the Blues Will Line Up
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Chelsea’s second pre-season game will see them make the short trip across south west London to AFC Wimbledon’s Cherry Red Records Stadium. Having recorded an emphatic 5-0 victory over the Wycombe Wanderers on Wednesday, 21 of the 22 players involved will fancy their chances at a place in the starting XI.

Mark Schwarzer will likely start in goal while Petr Cech continues his recovery from a shoulder injury. Mitchell Beeney made his debut against Wycombe and could get an outing at Wimbledon, although Jose Mourinho may prefer to use the more experienced Jamal Blackman ahead of him.

Youngster Todd Kane went off injured after just 17 minutes against Wycombe and will not feature in this game, leaving Branislav Ivanovic to replace him at right-back. Kurt Zouma is also able to play at right-back but should start in his preferred centre-half position alongside John Terry.

Nathan Ake started at left-back on Wednesday and hooked in the cross for the opening goal. However, his defensive lapses caused problems for his teammates and he could find that 16-year-old Jay Dasilva makes it into the starting XI ahead of him.

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Nemanja Matic could find himself playing as a purely defensive midfielder, with Jeremie Boga starting in front of him after setting up both Ivanovic's and Terry’s goals at Wycombe. The 17-year-old was among the most talked-about players after the game and is certainly competing for a place on the European tour.

Marco van Ginkel should replace Boga at half-time as he continues his return following knee surgery, while Lewis Baker should start as a box-to-box midfielder as he continues his campaign to break into the first-team squad.

Lucas Piazon spoke to the official Chelsea website about the uncertainty surrounding his future at Stamford Bridge, saying:

It’s always nice to be here and to see everybody again and to see the friends that I’ve spent a lot of time with. I don’t know what is going to happen but at the moment I’m really happy to be here. I will play in pre-season until we make a decision and I will try to do what’s the best thing for me.

Despite impressing during the first half of his loan spell at Vitesse Arnhem last season, Piazon knows that he will need to make a huge impression on Mourinho to feature in the first-team plans for next season. Chelsea are overloaded with players for Piazon’s attacking midfield position, and he will certainly need to put in a better performance than he did against Wycombe if he is to avoid another loan spell.

John Swift is likely to start on the left of the attack, while Mourinho will have to make a tough decision over who starts up front. Demba Ba was the only available first-team striker, and with him having completed a move to Besiktas on Friday, per the official website, the Special One will have to rely on his youngsters to replicate Wednesday’s result.

Both Patrick Bamford and Isaiah Brown had stand-out performances at Wycombe, scoring three of the five goals between them. Bamford prefers to play as a typical poacher, which allows Mourinho more scope to assess the attacking midfielders supporting him. He is more likely to start the first half, with Brown again replacing him at half-time.

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It is likely that Mourinho will again use all of his substitutes as he continues his assessment of the squad ahead of next week’s European tour. Whether any of the fringe players can make enough of an impact to stay in the squad remains to be seen, but another excellent result will do them no harm at all.

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