Chelsea will welcome a return to European competition after their domestic debacle at Crystal Palace as AS Roma visit Stamford Bridge on Champions League Match Day 3.
The Blues have impressed in Europe so far this term and sit top of Group C, two points clear of Roma and five ahead of Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea have come in for criticism domestically this season for their lacklustre performances but Antonio Conte continues to opt for his 3-4-3 formation that most of the other Premier League teams have tried to replicate this season. So far in European competition, having the extra man in the defensive line has given defensive stability and allowed Chelsea to break quickly on the counter-attack.
At present, Antonio Conte isn’t rotating his goalkeepers in European competition so Thibaut Courtois will continue between the sticks for the Blues.
Chelsea’s defensive problems have been much-publicised in recent times with injuries and rotations in the back line seemingly hampering performances. David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta made up the back line at Crystal Palace but Antonio Rudiger – against his former club – and Andreas Christensen will be pushing for returns against the Italians.
Victor Moses came off against his former club on Saturday with a nasty looking injury, meaning Davide Zappacosta should deputise here with Marcos Alonso primed to add some much-needed width on the left of the pitch.
N’Golo Kante’s presence was missed against Crystal Palace and the Blues will need to cope without him again here. Tiemoue Bakayoko scored his first goal for the club against the Eagles and is starting to look the part in the heart of the Blues’ midfield whilst Cesc Fabregas’s ingenuity will also be important to help the Blues break down Roma’s defensive wall.
Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro should form the front three for Chelsea, with Antonio Conte not seemingly enjoying what he’s seeing from Michy Batshuayi up front and in the absence of Alvaro Morata through injury, one of the aforementioned four men will need to step up to the plate.
Predicted Starting XI
Where the Game Will Be Won or Lost
Chelsea will look to take the game to Roma and press home their advantage in the group – knowing that three points would all but seal qualification – barring a disaster against FK Qarabag on Match Day 5. Much like the Blues, Roma are struggling in Serie A and sit nine points off leaders Napoli following their 1-0 home defeat to the leaders at the weekend. Roma will look to control possession with the likes of Nainggolan and De Rossi dictating the tempo in midfield – a game plan that could suit a Chelsea side that will be looking to catch Roma on the counter-attack.
Both sides will be desperate for a win – with a place at the top of the group up for grabs. They’ve had similar starts domestically and they will be hoping they can kick-start their respective seasons in European competition. Roma are a tough test for the Blues but Chelsea should have enough quality to see this one through and surge clear at the top of Group C.
Chelsea 2 – 1 AS Roma