The game will allow the Blues to rest some of their more senior players while also allowing the youth to demonstrate what they can provide to Mauricio Pochettino’s resurrected side. This game will be critical for a few players in particular in determining whether they can push their way into the boss’s strategy.
1. Noni Madueke
Noni Madueke, now 21, provided a much-needed spark to Chelsea’s lacklustre attack during a dismal season last season in which there were few individual standouts for the Blues. The U21 England international impressed with his aggressiveness in taking on players and effortlessly gliding past opposition defenders. Although his end product left something to be desired, it was clear that Madueke would be an important part of Chelsea’s front line for many years to come.
This game against Wimbledon provides the ideal opportunity for Madueke to establish himself this season and demonstrate that he can compete with Raheem Sterling for the right winger position. Although his flair and dribbling are thrilling, anything other than tangible output in the last third, particularly in the latter third of the game, is disappointing.
2. Ian Maatsen
Despite his impressive preseason, Maatsen’s versatility has worked against him as he has failed to obtain many minutes in league games with Ben Chilwell locking down the left side and Pochettino fielding fewer forwards in a three at the back system. The Ian Maatsen positional experiment can safely continue against Wimbledon, and the Dutchman might return to the left wing with Mykhailo Mudryk’s injury or in his native left back role to rest Ben Chilwell. Maatsen deserves a shot, regardless of where he starts, and the rumoured loan exit of Marc Cucurella will undoubtedly allow up additional possibilities in the rotation for the 21-year-old.
3. Moises Caicedo
It may seem unusual to start Moises Caicedo in this game, but the Ecuadorian needs a lot more playing experience to get back to his best for the Blues. His debut against West Ham was the clearest example of this, with him continuously squandering control and giving the penalty that ended Chelsea’s chances of winning the derby. Caicedo could be handed at least 45 minutes of playing time against Wimbledon, allowing him to become more comfortable in his role for this Blues team and prove his £115 million price tag.
4. Bashir Humphreys
Bashir Humphreys had an excellent preseason and impressed Pochettino enough to be named to the first team squad for league games. The young English defender was good defensively but especially at ease with the ball at his feet, comparable to fellow Cobham alumnus Levi Colwill. With Levi Colwill, Axel Disasi, and Thiago Silva all having played three consecutive league games, it’s highly certain that at least two of them will be rested for this game. This will allow Humphreys to handle the backline in his first official minutes of the season.
5. Lesley Ugochukwu
Surprisingly, 19-year-old defensive midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu appears to be staying with the first team squad despite being expected to go with the additions of Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia. Ugochukwu has looked comfortable in a deeper place and shown the capacity to go forward while never really setting a foot wrong in his limited outings in two of the Blues’ first three EPL games.
This encounter against Wimbledon will allow Mauricio Pochettino and the Tottenham Hotspur fans to see the young Frenchman’s full potential in the midfield. With Andrey Santos departing on loan to Nottingham Forest, Ugochukwu will provide nice young depth in the middle of the park, and ideally he can impress enough to earn a longer contract.