Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is once again set to change his side heavily for tomorrow’s Europa League clash with BATE Borisov.
The trip to Belarus takes place just four days after their 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge over fellow Londoners Crystal Palace and three days prior to an upcoming league clash at home to Everton.
Sarri’s side are currently unbeaten in their 16 matches in all competitions since losing in the Community Shield back in August against Manchester City.
Their impressive opening three months to the campaign includes wins in all three of their Group L matches in the Europa League, and a win over BATE will secure qualification into the knockout rounds with two games to spare, regardless of the score between MOL Vidi and PAOK Salonika.
We are expecting Sarri to make as many as seven changes for their second meeting with BATE in the space of a fortnight, where they will hope to recreate a performance similar to the one that saw them beat tomorrow’s opposition 3-1 on home soil.
Predicted line-up: (4-3-3) Kepa Arrizabalaga; Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen, Emerson; Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic; Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Willian
Predicted substitutes: Willy Caballero, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ethan Ampadu, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Eden Hazard
Having kept clean sheets in his last four away appearances, goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is currently in his career-best form on the road, a run he will want to extend to five tomorrow night.
The back four of Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen and Emerson have started together in recent matches in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup, and the quartet could once again be deployed together, coming in for Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso respectively.
Having been replaced by Cesc Fabregas early on during the win over Palace, Jorginho may have been partially rested in order Sarri to field his very own ‘on the pitch point of reference’ to secure a place in the next round. Playing just in front of him could be Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic, who would be replacing N’Golo Kante and Ross Barkley respectively.
Eden Hazard’s recent return from injury may mean that Sarri could leave his star asset at home, with Willian and Pedro keeping their places in the front three.
Olivier Giroud has recently missed the Blues’ last two matches through injury but could come back into the side in place of the in-form Alvaro Morata to lead the attack.
Defensively, Chelsea have looked like a force to be reckoned with this season away from home, particularly with Kepa keeping clean sheets in five of his six appearances away from the Blues. Having been swept away by Sarri’s side two weeks ago, BATE could find it difficult to earn any positive result out of the South West Londoners.
Score Prediction: BATE Borisov 0-2 Chelsea