It was expected that Maurizio Sarri will feature Ruben Loftus-Cheek against PAOK in the Europa League clash on Thursday with the likes of Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi having a role to play, but the Chelsea manager ended up naming a very strong side for the game.
Ahead of a busy fixture schedule for Chelsea, with this weekend’s game against West Ham followed by a League Cup and Premier League double header against Liverpool, Sarri believes he made the right decision to field a strong team for PAOK clash.
“It is very important competition,” Sarri told BT Sport before the game. “It is an unusual competition because at the moment we don’t know the opponents in the second round when teams come in from the Champions League. It’s very important and I think very difficult.
“We have changed five players in the starting eleven but we have a lot of matches in a few days so it is important to change, not too much but to change.
“This season they have won against Basel, against Spartak and then they draw in Portugal against Benfica and won the first three games in the Greek league so it’s a very good opponent.”
Hopefully, Sarri’s decision not to rest key players like N’Golo Kante and Jorginho for this game won’t backfire, bearing in mind that Willian also play this weekend with Pedro out injured.
Sarri is believed to be unhappy at the moment after the team’s flight was delayed due to bad weather.
The team returned to London on Friday afternoon, just 48 hours before Chelsea’s Premier League game against West Ham at the London Stadium, and have just one day to train for Sunday’s clash, coupled with a lesser time to recover from their trip and fatigue.
Hopefully, Chelsea won’t rue the decision not to rest the senior players, and thankfully Eden Hazard was rested for this game.