On the eve of perhaps their biggest game of the season, Chelsea are in the midst of a crisis of confidence and must quickly address their indecision both in attack and defence if they’re to secure a place in the Champions League knockout stages.
Chelsea looked taken aback by Everton’s aggressive approach to the game at the weekend and for all the individual errors that cost them, it must be said that the team as a whole looked afraid to make mistakes and were more than willing to invite pressure. This conservative mentality will not serve them well and with Lille possessing great pace on the counter, it is of paramount importance that Chelsea take control of possession and seek to put the game beyond sight early on.
Despite Lille’s dismal record in the Champions League this season, history would suggest they are more than capable of unsettling the Blues on home soil and complacency must be taken into account with Frank Lampard’s men still winless at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League.
A structured and well-disciplined performance is needed not only to ensure Chelsea progress in the Champions League but also to restore the same ruthless efficiency their play once possessed.
Here’s the XI that we think Lampard will select for the game.
Arrizabalaga’s distribution and abject shot-stopping came under yet more scrutiny against Everton and a string of poor performances must quickly be rectified if Chelsea want to progress to the Champions League knockout round.
Has been less aggressive and combative in recent weeks as a result of Chelsea’s poor defensive record. James needs to look to move into space with the ball and pick up positions in the midfield without as he had been doing so well previously.
With Fikayo Tomori ruled out through injury and Andreas Christensen’s dwindling form, there seems no better time than now to reintroduce Rudiger into the fold.
Zouma must take some of the blame for his role in Everton’s third goal but on the whole, he has been let down by his teammates who have played him into difficult positions with their hurried passing and poor positioning.
As much as Emerson has flattered to deceive this season, Chelsea’s backline looks devoid of any structure in his absence and the Italian will likely be recalled to restore balance.
Chelsea showed glimpses of quality in the midfield battle but were ultimately unable to take control as they allowed Everton to stretch the game and catch them in the transition. Jorginho’s ability on the ball will allow Chelsea to take hold of possession and dictate the tempo, restricting Lille from attacking the half-spaces with pace.
Aside from yet another trademark sweeping finish, Kovacic was one of the few players who showed any fight at the weekend. The Croatian was superb in the tackle and had his teammates been less indecisive then perhaps Chelsea would’ve been able to resue a result.
It was disappointing to see the American return to his old habits. Afraid to get beyond his man and produce the final ball he has become so renowned for over recent weeks Pulisic must show more endeavour to pick up goalscoring positions and test the keeper.
For all the criticism he has faced Mount actually looked in far better form against Everton, especially in his off the ball movement. A couple of last-ditch blocks and poor technique denied him another goal but if he continues to pick up such promising positions it will only be a matter of time before he scores again.
Lampard has perhaps shown some naivety in limiting the youngsters game time. For all his injury woes Hudson-Odoi appears to be the perfect solution to Chelsea’s conservative attacking style. The Englishman tends to excel at beating his man and it is only with more experience that his decision making will improve.
It looks as if the knock Abraham picked up against Everton is not as severe as first thought and thus he will be able to lead the line against the club he netted his first and only Champions League goal against. His movement was still somewhat hindered by the hip injury he suffered against Valencia but he must look to push through the pain barrier and stretch Lille’s backline with runs into the channel.