A currently unbeaten Chelsea are set to take on fourth placed Greek Superleague team PAOK Salonika on Thursday, in the clubs’ first ever Europa League meeting.
Though Chelsea enter the match as runaway favourites to win, PAOK remain unbeaten by any English team and after crashing out of the Champions League qualifiers, will be set to prove themselves on the European stage.
In a tie the Blues will certainly be confident they can win, several key players will almost certainly be rested.
Here’s how the team could line up.
3. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Willy Caballero (GK): With Chelsea’s new signing Kepa having already made a splash in the Premier League, a European competition is the perfect chance for the Blues’ second keeper to come off the bench and make an impact in the game.
Davide Zappacosta (RB): Having only played six minutes total in the league campaign so far and unable to beat Azpilicueta to the position, the talented defender will likely finally get his chance as the first team are rested.
Gary Cahill (CB): Experience is essential in any game, and Chelsea boss Sarri may be looking to keep this key man to inspire confidence on as the team around him rotates.
Andreas Christensen (CB): Chelsea kept eight clean sheets last season with Christensen in the team, and will be looking to get a shot in his first game for Chelsea since the season kicked off.
Emerson (LB): Having only joined Chelsea as of January this year, Emerson looks set to get a place ahead of Alonso where he’ll be hoping to impress Sarri.
Cesc Fabregas (CM): After training with the first team, Fabregas looks set to make his much anticipated return to the pitch after struggling with a knee injury in recent weeks. After missing the first five games of the season, the midfielder will be raring to return.
N’Golo Kante (CM): Though he isn’t a man to find himself on the scoresheet every game, Kante regularly makes an incredible impact on matches and will be needed in the Europa League clash.
Ross Barkley (CM): With Kovacic suffering an unfortunate injury, this will likely be Barkley’s time to shine. Having shown his worth in pre-season, he’s been unable to pip Kovacic to the spot he desires but Sarri will surely be looking to finally give the former Everton man his chance.
Willian (RW): After an impressive goal against Cardiff, Willian will be looking to claim his spot and replicate his goal-scoring form in front of PAOK.
Hudson-Odoi (LW): With Hazard having been left at home, the seventeen year old who has been at the club since 2007 will have his shot at proving himself in front of the boss and fans alike.
Álvaro Morata (ST): Though he’s failed to impress in his Premier League campaign thus far, Sarri has hinted that the striker will get his chance to impress in Europe. It’ll be a prime opportunity for the Spaniard to redeem himself, having only registered one goal in a 3-2 win against Arsenal.