The Premier League leaders will be looking for a safe passing into the second round of the UEFA Champions League over the next fortnight as they are heavily fancied to pick up six points in their two matches versus Slovenian opponents Maribor.
José Mourinho’s side are already two points ahead of the opposition after two games in the group stage despite being held at home by Schalke 04 in their opening game.
Maribor surprisingly eliminated Celtic to reach the group stage and whilst they have taken a point from each of their opening two games a trip to Stamford Bridge is a whole new proposition.
Chelsea Team News
César Azpilicueta was sent off in the first half of Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Filipe Luís could start this game at left-back to get some experience prior to the trip to Old Trafford at the weekend. The Brazilian has been given limited opportunities since joining over the summer.
Didier Drogba returned at the weekend, meaning Ramires is the only injury concern to the Portuguese manager.
Predicted Chelsea Lineup
Three points will be expected whatever side José Mourinho goes with in this one. With the game being played no Tuesday they don’t face Manchester United for another five days so perhaps fatigue won’t be an issue here. However, we think squad rotation with come into affect with three points at Old Trafford being the priority over the next two games.
Petr Čech hasn’t been given a run out in the Champions League yet but this is a good opportunity to do so. We think the same back four set to face Manchester United will play together on Tuesday. Ramires, André Schürrle, Mohamed Salah and Loïc Rémy can all get a start. Would be a risk to play Diego Costa in this match ahead of the weekend.
Cesc Fàbregas vs Željko Filipović
Cesc Fàbregas played a large number of games for Barcelona over the past couple of seasons and looks capable of doing so at Chelsea without tiring out. The Spanish playmaker has been involved in the majority of their successful attacks this season and should be capable of prying over the Maribor defence.
Loïc Rémy vs Maribor defence
The lesser-known Slovenian outfit only conceded a single goal in each game against Sporting Club and Schalke 04 suggesting head coach Ante Šimundža has his team set up well at the back. Chelsea have a lot of playmakers, more so that the German and Portuguese sides in this group. Should Loïc Rémy start this game, look for the French striker to be on the end of some chances.
André Schürrle vs Mitja Viler
We’re going with the German forward to start on the right wing to keep Willian fresh on the weekend. Perhaps Ramires shouldn’t be ruled out starting in this position. Both will offer pace down that right flank to get in behind the defence to either find themselves in a shooting position or with the opportunity to cut the ball back for a team mate. André Schürrle is an intelligent player and a bigger goal threat than the Brazilian.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Maribor
Chelsea haven’t been overly convincing to start their 2014-15 Champions League campaign but we see them doing enough to pick up the three points and then switching their attention straight to Manchester United at the weekend.