Chelsea vs Dynamo Kiev preview: Maurizio Sarri set to make changes

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri is considering making changes to his team for
the Europa League meeting with Dynamo Kiev due to tiredness in his squad.

The Blues face the Ukrainian side in the first leg of a last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night but Sarri has concerns over fatigue.

Sarri said: “We have no injury. Of course we have some players tired because the last week was very hard for us. We need to consider the situation and to rest some players, I think.”

Sarri had faced speculation about his long-term future at the club following a run of poor results but he has been boosted by back-to-back wins against Tottenham and Fulham in the Premier League.

Asked about his position, the Italian said: “It’s not a big problem, the problem is the results. All the rest is not important in this moment.

“I want to win for the club, not for me. I was confident in the past, I am confident now. But I want to think only about our performances.”

Team news

Sarri has no real injury concerns going into Thursday’s Europa League tie. Danny Drinkwater (tendon) and Marco van Ginkel (knee) are out with long-term injuries.

Winger Benjamin Verbic is suspended for Dynamo Kiev after a yellow card in the previous round against Olympiakos triggered a one-game ban.

Brazilian utility man Sidcley, who is yet to feature for Dynamo this year, could be tasked with replacing Verbic, who has scored 12 goals this season.

Opta stats

  • Chelsea will be facing off with Dynamo Kiev for just the third time, with the Blues winning one and drawing one of the two previous meetings during the group stages of the 2015-16 Champions League.
  • Dynamo Kiev have never won a European match on English soil, with the Ukrainians drawing three and losing 11 of their 14 previous visits – most recently a 0-0 draw at the Etihad against Manchester City in the Champions League last 16 back in March 2016.
  • Chelsea’s only previous appearance at this stage of the Europa League was back in 2012-13, beating Romanian side Steaua Bucharest over two legs – the season the Blues went on to lift the trophy under manager Rafa Benitez.
  • Dynamo Kiev have not won any of their last nine first-leg knockout matches in the Europa League (D6 L3); though their last such victory did come against English opposition – beating Manchester City at home during a last-16 encounter back in March 2011.
  • Willian has had a direct hand in seven Europa League goals this season (two goals, five assists); no Chelsea player has had more goal involvements in a single European campaign since both Juan Mata (12) and Fernando Torres (9) did so during their 2012-13 Europa League winning season.

Charlie Nicholas’ prediction

These teams are dangerous. They still have a reputation in Europe to protect, it might not be the most glamorous reputation but they still come and try to prove a point. And some of the players want to put in a performance so Chelsea might buy them!

Chelsea aren’t playing well, but they got a win at the weekend, they’re still unpredictable. Maurizio Sarri has to keep playing Eden Hazard but he’s been dropping him. I think Chelsea will go all-in, full strength and try to get a decent lead – and I think that’s what’ll happen.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 3-0 (7/1 with Sky Bet)

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