Chelsea’s shock opening day defeat by Burnley had football fans speaking massively of the supposed unrest at the club. The players were unhappy and the manager wanted to leave blah blah. Three wins on a bounce, coupled with the deadline acquisition of Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater and the return from injury of Hazard, has banned talk of crisis at the west London club.
The Blues will now go into the Champions League match with FK Qarabag on Tuesday facing a team who are in the Champions League group stages for the first time in their history. The Azerbaijan side are making their debut in the group stage, at the fourth attempt, beating FC Copenhagen in the playoff round. Here’s a few things I’ve got covered for you going into the game.
There are no injury concerns for Chelsea going into the game although the Blues will be without estranged striker Diego Costa, as he is not included in the Champions League squad. Eden Hazard is in contention to start though after his injury lay-off. The Belgian came on as a substitute in the 2-1 win over Leicester on Saturday. However, Conte continues to pray patience over his star and an involvement from the bench is more likely on Tuesday.
Expect Zappacosta to get his full debut after his stint against Leicester. The Italian wingback was brought in to provide cover for Victor Moses and may get a chance to impress.
Gary Cahill should slot straight into the team as the centre-back can finally get back to playing following a three-game suspension. The Chelsea captain, 31, was sent off after just 13 minutes of the opening league match of the season.
FK Qarabag will line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with former Birmingham City midfielder Michel in midfield and South African Dino Ddlovu leading the line.
Alvaro Morata – Chelsea: Is there anyone else? The Spaniard has begun life at Chelsea in breathtaking fashion, scoring three goals and providing two assists in four games. He will fancy his chances to increase that tally against lesser opponents on Tuesday (via his feet this time)
Dino Ddlovu – Qarabag: The South African scored ten goals in 23 premyer ligasi games last season and was instrumental in their journey to the champions league.
Predicted Line up
Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill(C), Zappacosta, Kante, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Alonso, Pedro, Morata
Manager: Antonio Conte
Qarabag: Sehic, Medvedev,Rzezniczak, Huseynov, Agolli, Qarayev, Guerrier, Michel, Almeida, Madatov, Ndlovu
Manager: Gurban Gurbanov
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London
Time: 7:45pm Nigerian time
Head to Head: Both teams have never met in a competitive match
Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag.
Morata to get a brace. Bakayoko to get on the score sheet. Expect fireworks!
Article by: Arc Jibril Baba, @jibril__baba