Antonio Conte generally rotates against beatable cup competition. He most notably did this against Everton (albeit the worst Everton side in years) and there is no reason to expect different against Bournemouth in a busy period.
chelsea, charly musonda.
Antonio Conte will, as always, play a team he thinks can win while giving fringe players chances to impress both him and potential suitors. Bournemouth pushed Chelsea already this season though and they must be careful in this balancing act.
GK: WILLY CABALLERO, Argentina
Caballero (and all back-up keepers at big clubs) knew what he was getting into when he joined Chelsea because he already experienced it at Manchester City. He will serve as a veteran behind the scenes until the rare run out against a cup opponent. So far in his appearances his has ranged from nervy (Nottingham Forest) to excellent (Everton), and Conte will hope he comes down on the excellent end of the spectrum.
CB: ANTONIO RUDIGER, Germany
Cup matches are some of the few and best times to give Cesar Azpilicueta a rest. Against Southampton, he was the shakiest of the defenders and that trend has been increasing in recent matches. Rudiger will get the start as he has in previous cup matches. The German has shown a lot of promise this season. He may not finish the season as a starter with the way others are playing, but he is a vital rotation option that most teams would envy.
CB: ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN, Denmark
David Luiz is still out until the transfer window opens and he is magically healed en route to somewhere else. Ethan Ampadu’s brief cameo for the first team in the back three did just enough to invite fear of putting him there from the start. So Christensen continues to start. Giving him a rest is lower priority compared to other positions but it is an issue Conte and Chelsea will want to keep an eye on as the transfer window approaches.
CB: GARY CAHILL, England
In every League Cup game this season, the same back three has started. There is no reason to assume that the Bournemouth match will be any different. Cahill will get another start as one of the older veterans in a young team. He was at his best against Southampton and even his most consistent detractors took notice. The truth is he rarely plays too far below that level anymore, and that is why he keeps starting while wearing the armband.
WB: DAVIDE ZAPPACOSTA, Italy
Conte uncharacteristically played and then started Victor Moses quickly off of his injury. It mostly paid off, but it was quite harsh on an in-form Zappacosta. The two wing-backs offer different things, which is a great problem to have. Zappacosta will get his return against Bournemouth in hopes of pushing Moses back to the bench. It will be an uphill battle due to history, but the Italian has proven himself capable in his time this season.
CM: ETHAN AMPADU, Wales
Ampadu was trusted enough to start against Everton in the last round in midfield, and was also had a late game cameo in the Premier League as a center-back. Because of a few nervy moments while in the back three, Conte will opt to keep him in midfield where he excelled against Everton. The kid is trusted and has effectively taken Nathaniel Chalobah’s role in the squad. At such a young age, if he can continue to find time at Chelsea, he will be truly special.
CM: DANNY DRINKWATER, England
Drinkwater has not played a great deal in recent matches and is due for a start. With Tiemoue Bakayoko seemingly back in form, N’Golo Kante in desperate need of a rest, and Cesc Fabregas better in a 3-5-2, Drinkwater is all that is left to partner with Ampadu. And luckily he already has partnered with the youngster this season in the EFL Cup. It worked well last time and his experience mixed with Ampadu’s youth will need to be fruitful once more.
WB: KENEDY, Brazil
Kenedy has become a forgotten man at Chelsea since his excellent preseason crashed down around him due to stupidity. He has had a few brief cameos in cups but nothing more. The match against Bournemouth will be his last audition of the calendar year for Conte. Either he proves himself an able deputy to Alonso to earn more playing time or he catches the eye of a team willing to take him on loan. But regardless he needs to show up big against the Cherries.
RW: WILLIAN, Brazil
Conte will want to use a 3-5-2 against Everton on the weekend. He will also want to use a 3-4-3 against Bournemouth because starting a brand new and under-played front two would be too big of a risk. That is why Willian will get the start in a front three. The fact that he is in good form whereas Pedro is not plays a large role as well.
ST: MICHY BATSHUAYI, Belgium
It is Batshuayi’s time to shine. There can be no excuses to not starting against Bournemouth in the EFL Cup. He needs to start and do well to prove to Conte he is fit again and deserves more time. Before his injury, Conte showed more trust in him this year but that has to be rewarded by a good showing. If the Belgian does not start, it will be hard to see him being at Chelsea beyond January.
LW: CHARLY MUSONDA, Belgium
Musonda recently signed a new contract which is generally a sign that a loan is about to happen. And the young Belgian needs it. He has done fine with his few minutes, but he will never fulfill his potential from the bench. He needs to go on loan in a first division where he can prove himself over time. Bournemouth will offer his last audition of the year and it needs to be a big one to catch the eye of Premier League or even Bundesliga teams.