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Strongest Possible Chelsea Line Up To Face West Ham In The Season Opener

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Antonio Conte will begin his Chelsea tenure on 15th when his team welcomes West Ham United for the first Monday Night Football match. After a disastrous last season, where Chelsea recorded the worst title defense in the history of the Premier League. The initial struggle resulted in the sacking of Jose Mourinho last year and Guus Hiddink was brought in to steady the ship. Conte will be hoping to bring in that solidity into the team that was missed so dearly last season. He has already brought in French powerhouse N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi, two players who will add that extra steel to the squad.

Chelsea have enjoyed a mixed pre-season, starting with a shock defeat to Rapid Vienna accompanied by a tight game against Real Madrid, followed by victories over RZ Pellets, Liverpool, AC Milan and Werder Bremen. The good thing is that the results kept on getting better with every game. Conte has been an advocate of a three-man defense line but till now he has shifted between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3 set up. Conte has an almost fully fit squad to choose from except Kurt Zouma, who is out with a long-term injury. Here is the predicted Chelsea starting XI that Conte might opt for on Monday.

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois

Courtois was excellent in the title winning season of 2014-2015 but suffered a slight dip last year. He will face competition from Asmir Begovic this season but there is no doubt that the Belgian international is the first choice keeper at Stamford Bridge and when fit is a guaranteed starter.

Defenders: Ivanovic, Cahill, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta

With Zouma out, Conte will likely start with an experienced back-four that started the majority of the games last season. Ivanovic struggled hugely during the initial periods last time around but still carries a lot of experience, which will be crucial at this stage. He will come in at right back, with Azpilicueta as the left back. The Spanish international was one of the standout players for the Blues last season. In the centre, it will be the veteran English defender John Terry alongside compatriot Gary Cahill.

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante, Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian

Former Leicester City midfielder Kante will likely make his debut on Monday for the Blues. He will start in central midfield alongside Fabregas. Hazard showed glimpses of the quality that won him the PFA player of the year award in the 2014-2015 season during the final few games of last season and the European Championship, will be itching to get going again. He will be on the left-wing, with Willian on the right. The Brazilian midfielder was by far the best Chelsea player last season. Oscar will start in that number 10 role.

Strikers: Diego Costa

Chelsea have been reported linked with a move for Lukaku but nothing seems to be moving on that front as of yet. Therefore it will be Costa leading the line on Monday, with Batshuayi providing cover from the bench.