Chelsea vs PAOK
Chelsea’s players will be watching this season’s Champions League on telly.
The Blues finished in fifth place in the 2017-18 Premier League.
As a result, Chelsea will compete in the Europa League on Thursday nights. Maurizio Sarri’s men will then return to Premier League action on Sundays.
The Pensioners kick off their European campaign away at PAOK this week.
Alvaro Morata & Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Following Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Cardiff, Sarri has confirmed that Alvaro Morata will start against PAOK.
To be clear, Olivier Giroud will be taken out of the Blues attack. Sarri said:
In the last two weeks I have seen four matches of Cardiff and four matches of PAOK Salonika and for me, yesterday I thought Giroud was more suitable for this match and Morata more suitable for the other.
I don’t know now who will be the striker of the future.
It’s been a frustrating start to the season for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Loftus-Cheek had a brilliant summer after he was included in England’s squad at the World Cup.
But since returning to Chelsea, Loftus-Cheek has been struggling for minutes. He’s also suffered a knock in recent weeks which can’t have helped his mood.
Yet, Sarri has suggested that RLC may feature in the Europa League:
[Ruben] Loftus-Cheek has a little problem with the right tibia. You saw today he wasn’t able to play, but I hope he can recover in the next two or three days.
Maybe it’s an opportunity I can give him a chance. I don’t know now because I want to have a very clear the picture of the situation, who are the players that need to rest or not.
Eden Hazard or Pedro?
Sarri has also indicated that Hazard could be rested against PAOK:
Hazard or Pedro will rest on Thursday.
Sarri may also rotate other areas of his side. For example Cesc Fabregas could play after Mateo Kovacic picked up a knock against Fulham.
At the back, will the likes of Andreas Christensen get a look in?