Antonio Rudiger returns to the squad for Tuesday’s Champions League game against Lille at Stamford Bridge. Rudiger has only played 45 minutes of football this season, so his return is a welcome one after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat.
With the return of Rudiger we see Fikayo Tomori miss out due to injury, so Rudiger’s experience and fitness comes at the right time with the busy Christmas period on the horizon. Rudiger’s only 45 minutes of play came in the first half in our 2-5 win at Wolves during September.
A win against Lille would see us qualify for the next stage of the Champions League, however, our home form has been quite sketchy this season with the predictability being quite difficult.
We beat Lille 1-2 in France on Matchday Two thanks to goals by Tammy Abraham and Willian. They can no longer qualify for the next stage of the Champions League or the Europa League, so they will have freedom to get a huge scalp and will try to make it difficult for us to get the result that we require.
Lille have won their last three domestic games 1-0 beating Dijon, Lyon and Brest; they are now third in Ligue 1, eleven points behind leaders PSG. Their line-up on Friday evening against Brest contained 35-year-old Jose Font, who has played for Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Ham.
Renato Sanches who played on the right wing on Friday has also tasted life in the Premier League with Swansea City. He has also played for Benfica and Bayern Munich.
The other match in Group H sees Ajax play Valencia. An Ajax win and a Chelsea win would see both teams qualify. If Valencia win and Chelsea win, then Valencia and Chelsea will qualify. A Chelsea draw and a win for Ajax would see us qualify too.
Whatever happens we will still be in Europe next February, but the Champions League is more advantageous than the Europa League due to the cash involved.
Lille have been far from great in the Champions League this season managing only a point from their five games so far, so we should be favourites to win. However, our own home form has been average.
An early goal would settle any nerves, so this is what I am predicting. I believe that we need to press Lille and to not let them settle. If the early goal comes then I think that we will win quite easily. I’ll go for a 3-0 victory.