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Talking points ahead of Chelsea’s clash with BATE Borisov

Talking points ahead of Chelsea’s clash with BATE Borisov

The Blues must make do without Eden Hazard.

Chelsea will seek a third-straight Europa League win when facing BATE Borisov at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night.

Here, Press Association Sport examines the key talking points ahead of the west London clash.

Will Chelsea attack fluidly without Hazard?

Eden Hazard will miss Thursday’s encounter with a back problem, with Chelsea fighting to have the Belgium forward fit in time for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Burnley. Hazard has proved the attacking fulcrum and the main source of goals for the Blues this term, so his absence will be keenly felt. The hosts will be expected to win with a little to spare however, so this could be an ideal opportunity for Sarri’s men to acclimatise to prevailing without the brilliant Belgian.

Can Maurizio Sarri keep all his players happy?

Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be given a chance against BATE Borisov (Nigel French/PA)

Sarri admitted on Wednesday that while he will rotate his resources for the visit of the Belarusians, he can ill afford to make wholesale changes. The taskmaster Italian cited as an example the folly of fielding an entirely new back four defensive unit, as the Blues are still adapting to his style of play. So while the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen can expect to see some action, other fringe players may end up disappointed. Sarri could find striking the right balance across his squad becomes trickier as the season unfolds.

Will coach Marco Ianni take his seat on the bench?

Marco Ianni
Marco Ianni’s antics upset Manchester United at the weekend (Adam Davy/PA)

Backroom staff member Ianni has been handed a chance to redeem himself by Blues boss Sarri following Saturday’s unsavoury goading of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Ianni taunted Mourinho in celebrating Chelsea’s equaliser as the Blues grabbed a last-gasp 2-2 Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge. Ianni apologised to Mourinho after the match, with Sarri making public apologies to United and their Portuguese boss. Sarri has insisted Chelsea will accept any punishment coming Ianni’s way from the Football Association. The experienced Italian manager will keep his counsel on any internal punishment however until the FA confirm their sanction. It remains to be seen whether Ianni will be among Chelsea’s dugout contingent on Thursday, but Sarri’s comments suggest he will.

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