After two victories by the slimmest of margins, Chelsea go into their third Europa League group stage fixture looking to rotate some more, and maybe score a few more goals as well, this time against the visiting Champions of Belarus, BATE.
Sarri confirmed yesterday afternoon that he won’t be able to count on star player Eden Hazard and youngster Ethan Ampadu as both are currently nursing injuries. While the former wouldn’t have been expected to start anyway, he was needed against Vidi FC on matchday two, so let’s hope we’re more efficient this time and finally win in a more convincing manner. Otherwise, the entire squad seems to be fit.
Kepa Arrizabalaga started both games in the Europa League so far, and that’s likely to continue until we clinch a spot in the knockout rounds. Caballero did finally make his competitive debut for the season in the League Cup tie against Liverpool however, confirming that Sarri does not intent to use Kepa in every match from now until eternity.
Speaking in yesterday’s press conference, Sarri wasn’t sure about the extent of the squad rotation, guessing that’d probably change about half the time (five or six) from the weekend. With Rüdiger just back from a groin injury, he’s likely to be one of the first to rotate out. And surely Sarri will give Christensen a chance after all the media talk, even if that may not be the way he likes to go about squad selection. With Alonso always a good candidate for a rest, perhaps Azpilicueta will be the only holdover from the weekend here.
Sarri already confirmed that Jorginho will be rested, which brings in Cesc Fabregas. In-form Ross Barkley surely has to start, which leaves the only question: Kanté or RLC? Since Loftus-Cheek’s name was mentioned during the press conference, and in a positive light, let’s go with him.
So that’s six changes already, plus a seventh enforced one with Pedro (or perhaps Victor Moses?) starting over the injured Eden Hazard. Giroud is likely to start against Burnely on Sunday, so Morata will probably keep his spot at center forward.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, Christensen, Cahill, Azpilicueta | Barkley, Fàbregas, Loftus-Cheek | Willian, Morata, Pedro
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The WAGNH community’s preference is very clear once again, with only Caballero and Morata getting significantly less than two-thirds of the vote as starters. Meanwhile, the calls for Hudson-Odoi get even louder as both Moses (44%) and Willian (20%) miss out.
Caballero (52%) | Emerson (95%), Christensen (97%), Cahill (84%), Zappacosta (86%) | Loftus-Cheek (92%), Fabregas (93%), Barkley (70%) | Hudson-Odoi (76%), Morata (57%), Pedro (63%)
My favoured lineup differs from the community’s choice in just one position, as I’m in favour of continuing with Arrizabalaga in goal and letting him build on his recent great performances while gaining further experience in Europe. I however wholeheartedly agree with Callum Hudson-Odoi finally being given his chance in replacing Eden Hazard ahead of Victor Moses or Willian on the left wing. Hope dies last, as they say.
Arrizabalaga | Emerson, Christensen, Cahill, Zappacosta | Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Barkley | Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Pedro
COME ON, YOU BLUES!