Champions League nights have returned back to Stamford Bridge with Chelsea hosting Italian giants A.S. Roma on Wednesday night. Chelsea is looking to maintain their 100% record in the group following a last-minute victory away at Atletico Madrid in match-day two. A victory for the Italian outfit would see them leapfrog Chelsea into the first position.
Chelsea comes into this tie in indifferent form, to be frank. Chelsea is underperforming in the Premier League; they are 9 points behind Manchester City following an embarrassing defeat away at Crystal Palace. Prior to Chelsea, Crystal Palace hadn’t scored in their opening seven matches but somehow they scored two. Wilfried Zaha terrorised the Chelsea backline in what was an afternoon to forget for Antonio Conte’s men. The defeat against Crystal Palace was the first time since September 2016 that Chelsea had lost two consecutive games.
Roma is in a similar predicament domestically to Chelsea. They are 9 points behind Napoli, following a 1-0 defeat at home to the Serie A league leaders. Roma experienced a disappointing transfer window with key personnel such as Francisco Totti who retired; Wojciech Szczesny and Salah departing for Juventus and Liverpool respectively, not forgetting Antonio Rudiger who signed for Chelsea, of course.
Antonio Conte was rightly critical of the performance on Saturday but who is in contention to start? Victor Moses has become the latest victim to fall to the curse of a hamstring injury so Davide Zappacosta will most likely deputise in the right-wing back position. Zappacosta showed promise in the defeat against Palace but his crosses were not really utilised when the team switched to a false-9 formation. The alternative option is that Cesar Azpilicueta is deployed there meaning Rudiger or Christensen could feature alongside David Luiz and captain Gary Cahill, however, this wasn’t so effective at home to Manchester City. N’Golo Kante is absent due to a hamstring injury and is expected to return in 3 weeks. Conte says Morata is in contention but there is debate whether it will be from the start or will feature from the bench. There will speculation regarding who will feature in the back three, especially when the last time Chelsea experienced two consecutive defeats – Conte changed the system. Could he do it again?
Despite the departures from the Italian capital, Roma is still a very strong outfit. Chelsea will have to pay particular and close attention to former Manchester City striker, Edin Dzeko. When asked to single out the most dangerous Roma player, Marcos Alonso referred to Dzeko. The Bosnian has shone at the Olimpico, scoring 44 goals in 75 league appearances. Last season, Dzeko scored 36 goals in 44 appearances as Roma came second behind Juventus in the race for the Serie A title. Roma is a side which has talent throughout; Chelsea will be wary of the midfield being dominated by Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman and the trickery of El-Shaarawy and Florenzi on the flanks.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Roma