Maurizio Sarri confirmed that Chelsea will be without Eden Hazard for the home game against PAOK in the fifth matchday of the UEFA Europa League.
Chelsea can secure top spot with a point against PAOK on Thursday. The game at Stamford Bridge though, will be tough, with PAOK in need of all three points to stay in with a chance to qualify. The away side have received a little confidence boost, with Maurizio Sarri confirming the absence of Eden Hazard.
In defence, Kepa Arrizabalaga is the only player that will retain his place. The Spaniard also received some stick for the defeat against Tottenham and will be hoping to redeem himself as quickly as possible. In front of Kepa, should be the same four players that have taken the field in Chelsea’s last two Europa League fixtures – Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen and Emerson Palmieri.
In midfield, Maurizio Sarri has hinted at resting N’Golo Kante after a few errors from the Frenchman as regards his positioning were visible in the loss to Tottenham. While Sarri did not specify who will start between Jorginho and Cesc Fabregas, we expect the latter to take the field. To accompany Fabregas, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be deputised on either side of the Spaniard.
Victor Moses continues to remain on the sidelines. The biggest miss though, will be the absence of Eden Hazard, who had a back injury for a few weeks now and has suffered an ankle injury recently. Sarri highlighted Hazard’s situation in the pre-match conference.
“Hazard is not a serious injury but he will not be able to play tomorrow. I think we will be able to recover him for the game on Sunday. I spoke with the doctor 10 minutes ago and he told me Moses has a back problem this morning so I think he will not be able to play tomorrow.”
“Hazard 25 days ago had a back injury and now the ankle and so he has lost a lot of training, so it is normal he is not at the top of his physical condition. He will need another week of training and a couple of matches to be in the best physical condition.”
Willian and Pedro should start on either wing. As far as the centre-forward position is concerned, Olivier Giroud had a spirited cameo against Tottenham and should start against PAOK.