Chelsea are in a must-win showdown on Tuesday as they take on Championship side Middlesbrough in the League Cup semi-final second leg.
The Blues were shocked by the second-tier club in the first meeting, falling to a 1-0 defeat at the Riverside Stadium as they were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal.
However, Mauricio Pochettino and co are heavily fancied to advance to the final, but they must turn the tie on its head in the second leg to achieve the feat.
Chelsea’s ambitions have not been helped by their crippling injury problems, with numerous first-team stars ruled out for Tuesday’s crunch encounter, as per the club’s official website.
The Blues were also dealt a further injury blow with Pochettino confirming that right-back Malo Gusto will be unavailable for selection, leaving a severely depleted squad for the manager to choose from.
Nonetheless, Pochettino should still have enough in the locker room to propel his team to the final, offering a glimmer of hope in what has been a disappointing campaign for the Blues.
How Chelsea could line-up
In the absence of Robert Sanchez, Dorde Petrovic has been a breath of fresh air with his no-nonsense approach to goalkeeping. He’ll be hoping for a clean sheet against Middlesbrough this time around.
The backline has been decimated with injuries, but Ben Chilwell’s return to action could lift the mood in the dressing room.
However, in a bid to manage his fitness, Pochettino could refrain from naming the vice-captain in the starting line-up with Levi Colwill set to start at left-back.
The latest setback to Gusto could see Axel Disasi slot in at right-back while the experienced Thiago Silva and the out-of-sorts Benoit Badiashile hold down the fort at the heart of the defence.
A midfield trio of Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez and Conor Gallagher should remain unchanged, while the in-form Cole Palmer will start in attack alongside Raheem Sterling and Noni Madueke.
Predicted starting XI:
(4-3-3): Dorde Petrovic; Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva, Benoit Badiashile, Levi Colwill; Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez, Conor Gallagher; Noni Madueke, Cole Palmer, Raheem Sterling.
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