With Champions League qualification and top spot secured, Chelsea has the ability to rotate their squad in what is essentially a dead-rubber match against Russian side Krasnodar.
Chelsea earned their most impressive victory of the group stage in their last outing in their 4-0 route away to Sevilla, a game that is otherwise known as ‘The Olivier Giroud Game’ as the Frenchman netted all four goals as he became the oldest player (34 years and 63 days old) to score a hat-trick in UEFA Champions League history.
Going into their match with Krasnodar, it’s been an impressive campaign for Chelsea and Frank Lampard whose side have scored 13 goals and conceded just one goal in the group stage; the lowest tally conceded out of any side in the competition.
Their Premier League form has been equally admirable as they’ve earned four wins out of their last five games as well as going on a nine-match unbeaten streak.
That vein of form has propelled Liverpool manager and reigning Premier League champion Jurgen Klopp to crown Chelsea as early title favorites, a label Frank Lampard himself doesn’t think too much of.
“I don’t think we think much of it. Liverpool and Manchester City have built a great squad, there are others in contention.
“I think where we are out, we are in good form, but we have players who have come in and City and Liverpool have had a lot of success for long periods. We are trying to reach that.”
Lampard is expected to make wholesale changes on Tuesday, and he’s confirmed both Billy Gilmour and Kepa Arrizabalaga are set to start against Krasnodar.
Gilmour has been out with injury since March while Kepa, the Blues’ most expensive signing has been displaced from his starting spot by Édouard Mendy.
Lampard spoke glowingly about Kepa’s attitude in training and towards Mendy as well as revealing he has no issues with reintroducing the Spaniard back in the side.
“It is about attitude and how you play, his situation now is different with Mendy’s form. Kepa is training brilliantly well and acting brilliantly well. I have no qualms about putting him back in.
“He has been very supportive. I have seen that. I watch from afar and he has been supporting him and training well. That’s what I look at. Goalkeepers have to push each other as a group.”
Krasnodar won their last league game 5-0 but have lost four of their last six as they sit 9th in the Russian Premier League. They did net their first win of the competition last week as they narrowly defeated Rennes 1-0 at home.
Despite Lampard’s expected changes, I still feel Chelsea will get the job done in a 2-0 win to end the group stage on a high note.
Odds on a Chelsea win open at -400. Odds on a Krasnodar win at Stamford Bridge open at +1000. Odds on a draw between the two sides open at +500.