Maurizio Sarri named a strange line-up for Chelsea’s away game against Cardiff City as he opted to drop two key Chelsea players Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante for the game against the Welsh side.
Sarri started a front three of Pedro, Willian and Gonzalo Higuain, and a midfield three of Jorginho, Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic, dropping Kante to the bench.
This is the first time Kante has not started a league match all season, and the Frenchman didn’t join the fray in the second-half as Chelsea sought to come back into the game having gone down 1-0.
Sarri has revealed that Hazard and Kante were both in need of a rest after their exploits for Belgium and France during the international break. The duo started back-to-back Euro 2020 qualifying matches for their countries last week.
Speaking about why he rested Kante and Hazard, Sarri told Sky Sports before the match: “At the moment Kante has played 50 matches in this season and Hazard 47.
“They played with the national teams, Hazard for 187 minutes and Kante for 175 minutes, and so I think that it’s time to rest.”
Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi was also left on the bench for this game having impressed during his start for England during the international break, and Sarri revealed that he went for Pedro and Willian because they were fresh, having not been involved during the international break.
He continued: “Callum is always in my mind when I have to decide the starting XI. Today I wanted to put in the condition to change the starting XI for Wednesday.
“I had for all the international break in training Pedro and Willian so I thought it was right to start with them.”