Chelsea take on Bate Borisov in their Europa League clash on Thursday as they look to continue their unbeaten run this season.
The Blues have played with a changed line-up in Europe’s other competition, and we should expect a number of changes to the side that beat Crystal Palace last weekend.
Maurizio Sarri should look to keep our main team fresh for the weekend’s game against Everton, and here is our predicted line-up for the Blues.
Predicted Chelsea XI
Manager: Maurizio Sarri
Willy Caballero (GK)
Kepa Arrizabalaga should be rested for the weekend and the experienced Caballero should start this game.
Davide Zappacosta (RB)
The Italian right-back should be in-line for another start in the Europa League for Chelsea on Thursday.
Gary Cahill (CB)
Cahill hasn’t seen a lot of first-team minutes this season for Chelsea, however, the Europa League is his best bet for minutes under Sarri.
Andreas Christensen (CB)
The Dane is another player that hasn’t gotten a lot of minutes in the Premier League but should be part of the starting XI against Bate.
Emerson Palmieri (LB)
Emerson has been quality in the chances he has received for Chelsea and should start in place of Marcos Alonso against Bate.
Cesc Fabregas (CM)
The Spanish star hasn’t been great this season for the Blues, but his experience will be useful in this tie.
Mateo Kovacic (CM)
The Croatian’s place in our starting XI has been taken up by Ross Barkley, hence Kovacic should get this game on Thursday.
N’Golo Kante (CM)
The Frenchman should start and be replaced later once the points are more or less made safe.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (LW)
Loftus-Cheek has been one of the bright spots in our side this season and should get another start under his belt.
Olivier Giroud (ST)
Alvaro Morata scored a brace in our previous game but should be rested with Giroud leading the line.
The Spaniard played in our win over the Eagles but should start against the minnows on Thursday.
“Defensive masterclass”: Some Chelsea fans react as 21-year-old loanee impresses in Champions League
Chelsea fans took to Twitter to voice their appreciation of Malang Sarr after solid performance against Manchester City
FC Porto played out a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Manchester City at Estadio do Dragao on Tuesday in a match which saw Chelsea defender Malang Sarr impress with his performance for the Portuguese side.
Chelsea signed the 21-year-old defender on a free transfer from French club OGC Nice in the summer but loaned him out right away to Portuguese side FC Porto.
The Frenchman has made 7 appearances for Porto this season and has helped the club have a solid start in Liga NOS and the UEFA Champions League. (h/t Transfermarkt)
Chelsea fans were left highly impressed after Sarr played the full 90 minutes in the Porto backline that kept a clean sheet against the Manchester City side that put five past Burnley this weekend in the Premier League.
The result meant that FC Porto will qualify from their UEFA Champions League group in 2nd spot and will play in the last-16.
Here is what the Blues fans had to say Malang Sarr on Monday night:
Some Chelsea fans can’t wait to have the 21-year-old back at Stamford Bridge next season.
Sarr’s loan at Porto ends in June 2021 and the youngster is expected to join Frank Lampard’s men at the start of next season.
Sarr impressed Chelsea in his last season with OGC Nice where he featured in 19 Ligue 1 games to help OGC Nice secure 6th position.
With Thiago Silva already 36 years old and Antonio Rudiger’s future at the club looking uncertain, Malang Sarr might have a big role to play at Stamford Bridge next season.
Chelsea among clubs keeping tabs on impressive 23-year-old Premier League star
Chelsea have joined the race to sign Brighton & Hove Albion defender Ben White
Ben White impressed in his last season with the then Championship side Leeds United and has now attracted interest from Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. (h/t Sky Sports)
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are also after Ben White, while Liverpool clarified that they had no interest in signing him despite the Reds’ pursuit of the defender last summer and their current injury crisis at the back. (h/t Sky Sports)
The Blues did manage to sign 36-year-old Thiago Silva from PSG on a free transfer this season, but Frank Lampard has indicated that he is looking for a long-term solution at the back to plug Chelsea’s defensive holes. (h/t football.london)
Ben White’s contract extension this year saw his stay at the Seagulls extended until the summer of 2024.
The 23-year-old has played the full 90 minutes in all but one of Brighton’s Premier League games this season. The Seagulls lie 16th in the table and are 4 points clear of the relegation zone.
It might not be easy to get Brighton to sell their main centre-back in January as the club battles for survival in the top flight. However, a move for the defender in the summer would make sense for Lampard considering the depth and quality that White would add to the squad.
Out-of-favour Chelsea defender on the radars of La Liga heavyweights ahead of January
Barcelona want Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger if they fail to sign Eric Garcia from Manchester City
Eric Garcia remains Barcelona’s number one target despite the club already failing to land him in the past. The club’s £700m debt made them reconsider the £9m price tag put on Garcia by Manchester City. (h/t football.london)
However, Ronald Koeman is still keen on bringing in a centre-back in January. The most recent long-term injury to veteran defender Gerard Pique has worsened the injury crisis at the La Liga club and made their manager desperate for cover at the back. (h/t football.london)
Barcelona will be without their Spanish defender until April and will look to add much-needed depth to their defence by pursuing a number of centre-backs in the upcoming transfer window. (h/t football.london)
Antonio Rudiger and Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi are said to be the two alternatives if Barcelona fail to sign 19-year-old Eric Garcia from Manchester City.
Antonio Rudiger would be a viable option for Koeman and Barcelona as the defender has lost his starting place at Chelsea to Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva.
The 27-year-old German defender rejected the chance to join West Ham United at the end of last summer and decided to stay at Chelsea to fight for his place in the starting XI. (h/t football.london)
However, that has failed to happen. Rudiger has been reduced to a being a benchwarmer at the club as he has made just 2 starts for Chelsea this season.
With Lampard having found his preferred centre-back pairing of Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva at the club, Rudiger would understand that he is no longer the go-to man at the back for Lampard like he was in the latter stages of last season.
The upcoming 2020 UEFA European Championships next summer also has the potential to influence Rudiger’s move away from the club as he looks to pin down a berth in the German national squad.
“He deserves it”: Chelsea ace lavishes praise on teammate after last UCL performance
Jorginho says he was ‘just so happy’ to see striker Olivier Giroud score against Stade Rennais
Speaking in a pre-match press conference (h/t Chelsea FC official website) via a video link from Cobham on Tuesday, Jorginho talked about his elation at seeing ‘nice guy’ Olivier Giroud score the winner in the Champions League encounter against Stade Rennais last week.
Chelsea traveled to Stade de le Route de Lorient last week to take on Stade Rennais on matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League group stages.
Callum Hudson-Odoi scored early on to open the scoring for Chelsea before Serhou Guirassy equalized for Rennes five minutes from time.
However, substitute Olivier Giroud leapt highest to head in an injury-time winner and hand Chelsea all three points in a win that ensured their qualification to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.
The goal against Stade Rennais was Giroud’s second goal of the season since his strike in a 6-0 rout of Barnsley in the EFL Cup back in September.
Giroud’s role at the club has been reduced to cameo appearances. He has only played 189 minutes of football this season, with 76 of them coming in the EFL Cup loss to Spurs in his only start of the season. (h/t Transfermarkt)
Amidst a tough time for the Frenchman at the club, teammate Jorginho expressed his elation at seeing him score against Rennes and said that the goal felt even better because of who the scorer was.
“Everyone loves him because he’s such a nice guy and he deserves it. I was so happy for Oli because of the person he is, the way he works every single day with a smile.”
Jorginho went on to add that Giroud’s contribution on and off the pitch is vital to the team and that seeing the goal go in was ‘an amazing feeling‘.
“He brings so much to our group, not just on the pitch but in the changing room as well so when I saw the ball going in, I was just so happy. That’s football and that’s why I love it. You never know what’s going to happen and in that moment it was an amazing feeling.”
Olivier Giroud has not hidden his feelings about his lack of playing time under Frank Lampard. The 34-year-old has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge as he looks to secure a berth in the French team travelling to the 2020 UEFA Euros next summer.