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Eden Hazard Chelsea

Eden Hazard and the Chelsea players celebrate

Chelsea welcome Slavia Prague at the Stamford Bridge on Thursday in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Blues defeated Slavia Prague 1-0 last week to ensure we have a slim advantage heading into the second-leg. Maurizio Sarri’s side are the favourites to progress into the next round, but underestimating our opponents could hurt us.

The Europa League remains the most realistic route back into the Champions League and Sarri should prioritise winning it over claiming a place in the top four.

Team News

Antonio Rudiger hobbled off in the first half of the 2-0 at Liverpool at the weekend and is set to miss out. The Evening Standard, however, claim Gary Cahill has been called in to replace the injured German.

Other than that, Sarri has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game.

Probable Chelsea XI

Formation: 4-3-3

Manager: Maurizio Sarri

Kepa Arrizabalga (GK)

Kepa is Chelsea’s undoubted no.1 and should start in goal on Thursday.

Cesar Azpilicueta (RB)

Given the importance of the Europa League, Sarri will stick with Azpilicueta at right-back rather bring in Zappacosta.

David Luiz Chelsea

David Luiz

David Luiz (CB)

Luiz will have to be at the top of his game to keep the visitors’ at bay in the second leg.

Gary Cahill (CB)

With Rudiger injured and Christensen having replaced him at Liverpool, Sarri could bring in the experienced Cahill for this game. The former England international hasn’t played much this season but he’ll be raring to repay his manager’s faith.

Marcos Alonso (LB)

It was his goal that made the difference in the first leg in the Czech Republic. With Emerson having played the full 90 minutes at Anfield, Sarri could recall the Spaniard back into the starting XI.

Jorginho (CDM)

Jorginho hasn’t settled completely in the Premier League, yet he remains one of the first names on our gaffer’s team sheet.

N’Golo Kante (RCM)

We cannot afford to take Slavia Prague lightly and that could be a prime reason why Kante has to start this game.

Ross Barkley (LCM)

Barkley has blown hot and cold this season but he’ll be aiming to make a difference on Thursday.

Willian (RW)

He was one of Chelsea’s best players in Prague last week, so expect Willian to keep his place in the team.

Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Callum Hudson-Odoi (LW)

Speedy, agile and tricky, Hudson-Odoi will look to give the Slavia Prague defenders nightmare on Thursday.

Read more: Boost for Sarri as Chelsea could be possible destination for this 26-year-old La Liga dynamo

Olivier Giroud (ST)

Giroud has delivered the goods consistently in the Europa League this campaign and deserves to start the second leg.

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A View From The Bridge

Chelsea plan to bring back former youth star to replace midfield general

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Declan Rice

Chelsea target Declan Rice to replace N’Golo Kante if he leaves

According to the Daily Mirror, Chelsea have identified former youth player Declan Rice as the perfect successor to N’Golo Kante in case the Frenchman leaves the club.

Kante has struggled to make an impact due to injuries this season. The 29-year-old has made just 22 appearances while scoring three goals. His future too is now in doubt following interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid.

According to the report, Kante is not keen on a move away. This has not stopped the Spaniards from making him their number one target over Paul Pogba.

N'Golo Kante
N’Golo Kante is a transfer priority for Real Madrid

The Blues, however, are looking to stay on top of things by earmarking a successor to the Frenchman if the worst comes to pass. Capable of playing in both defensive midfield and centre-back, Rice will offer Lampard a number of options.

West Ham are adamant to hold on to their prized possession and value the player at £70million minimum. Premier League rivals Manchester United are also interested.

A return to Stamford Bridge will see the youngster reunite with best friend Mason Mount at the place where it all began for the duo. Having joined the club as a 7-year-old, Rice was eventually released in 2014.

Declan Rice started his youth career at Chelsea
Declan Rice is close friends with Mason Mount

He then moved to West Ham, where he made the most of the opportunity given to him by Slaven Bilic.

His performances saw him win West Ham Players’ Player of the Year award while also being declared as Young Hammer of the Year for the third consecutive season. (h/t Mirror)

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Rice is one of the best young English midfielders in the league today. A return to Stamford Bridge after having proven his ability elsewhere will see the budding star redeem himself for being let go.

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Former Blues favourite feels Dutch star will fit in well at Chelsea – likens him to Lampard

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Jesper Gronkjaer believes Donny van de Beek will be a proper fit at Chelsea

According to Goal.com (h/t Mirror), former Chelsea favourite Jesper Gronkjaer believes Ajax star, Donny van de Beek will thrive at Chelsea.

He lavished praise on the Dutchman, likening him to club legend and current boss Frank Lampard. He has been described as a box to box player capable of taking a long shot.

“He is more like Frank Lampard, that kind of player. He is a big guy, box-to-box, and takes good long shots.”

Goals from midfield were something Lampard specialized in, and Gronkjaer’s words are no small praise for the Dutch sensation. If he is anything close to our former number eight, we will have a real player on our hands.

The Dutchman’s performances have garnered interest from European giants Juventus and Real Madrid, two sides who Van de Beek starred against last season.

Van de Beek had scored 10 goals and 11 assists this season prior to football being suspended. The season in the Netherlands has now been declared null and void, making his efforts pointless.

Donny van de Beek
Donny van de Beek has garnered interest from Juventus and Juventus

Having come through the youth ranks at Ajax, the midfielder has gone on to make 175 appearances for Ajax while scoring 41 goals and 34 assists. 

Just 22, he can only get better and can turn into a key player in the coming years. Whether we sign him or not remains to be seen. He has gone on to win nine caps for his country.

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Chelsea is undergoing a youth revolution under Lampard. The addition of Van de Beek will not just give us a young promising midfielder, but also one who has shown he can compete at the highest level.

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Chelsea keen to beat off arch-rivals to 53-goal Ligue 1 star

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Chelsea keen to beat Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to Memphis Depay

According to Spanish website Todofichajes (h/t Express), Chelsea are set to face off against Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal for Lyon star Memphis Depay.

With the French giants missing out on European qualification for next season, the future of the former Manchester United star has been called into question.

The 26-year-old arrived at United with much fanfare in 2015. It proved to be a disaster, with him scoring just 7 goals and 6 assists in 53 appearances for the club. He was eventually moved on in the summer of 2017 to Lyon.

Memphis Depay has attracted interest from Chelsea
Memphis Depay has attracted interest from Chelsea

To his credit, the Dutchman has rebuilt his reputation in France. A regular for Lyon, he has scored 53 goals and 43 assists in 134 games.

At 26, he has a number of years left in him and should be a risk worth taking. Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas has already conceded that Depay could leave owing to the lack of European football next term

With his contract set to expire in 2021, Lyon could end up losing him on a free next summer. With clubs set to face a financial hit due to the coronavirus crisis, the French side will do well to earn top dollar for the Dutchman this summer.

Mohamed Salah returned to the Premier League a different beast
Mohamed Salah returned to the Premier League a different beast

The lack of European football means Lyon’s finances are set to suffer even further, giving us some leeway in trying to force a deal. With Arsenal and Tottenham looking likely to miss out on the Champions League, our hand could be further strengthened.

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In spite of having failed at United, Depay still remains a potent player. Mohamed Salah has shown that all players need sometimes is a second chance in the right system.

A versatile attacker who can play anywhere along the frontline, Depay could very well get the opportunity to do the same.

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Transfer blow for Chelsea as rivals move ahead in race for £60m-rated Ligue 1 ace

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Moussa Dembele doesn't have a lot of Premier League experience

Chelsea fall behind in the race for Moussa Dembele

According to the Daily Star, Chelsea have fallen behind Manchester United in the race to sign Lyon striker Moussa Dembele.

The Red Devils are increasingly confident of getting their man, having scouted him extensively over the past few months. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has sent scouts to watch Dembele at least three times in the last six months and is keen to convince him to make a switch to Old Trafford.

Dembele has enjoyed an excellent season at the Groupama Stadium and has scored 22 goals and assisted 7 in 42 appearances.

Moussa Dembele is a target for Chelsea
Moussa Dembele prefers Manchester United over Chelsea Image Credits: Getty Images)

Tammy Abraham has established himself as the first-choice striker under Frank Lampard. With Michy Batshuayi woefully out of form and Oliver Giroud out of contract this summer, bringing in a striker is key.

The major drawback in our pursuit is likely to come from the player himself. According to the report, Dembele is keen on making the switch to Manchester over a return to London.

The 23-year-old has experience of playing in England, having made more than 150 appearances for Fulham and Celtic. A clinical finisher, his best is yet to come.

Tammy Abraham
Chelsea have been heavily reliant on Tammy Abraham for goals this season

Lyon are resigned to losing a number of their stars owing to their failure of qualifying for Europe next season. Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has already accepted that he may have no other choice but to sell. (h/t Daily Star)

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It is unfortunate that we have apparently missed out on a promising striker. He would have added competition and numbers to our attack going into the new season.

We will hopefully keep United at bay in the race for fourth place. A return to the Champions League will strengthen us in our ability to attract players in the summer.

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