Chelsea will be coming into this game as more of the confident team after they returned to winning ways at the weekend with a 2-0 win over Fulham in the West London Derby.
Goals from Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek beat a spirited Fulham side on Sunday.(https://abdhfootball.com/2018/12/02/chelsea-vs-fulham-2-0-match-report-and-player-ratings-article/)
Prior to their win on Sunday, Chelsea’s last Premier League win came on the 4th of November when they beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. They were winless in 2 Premier League games before beating their West London Rivals at the weekend.
The Blues now travel to Molineux to face a Wolves side who have won just one point since September. Friday’s 2-1 loss to Cardiff was Wolves’s sixth defeat in seven games – only Arsenal have failed to beat them in that run – and they face Liverpool and Tottenham before the end of the year.
After a brilliant start to the season, Wolves have slipped down the table at a fast rate, and now will be looking to halt the downslide, with an inspired performance on Wednesday when the Blues come to town!
Wolves have down well against the top 6 so far this season, picking up impressive draws against Manchester City at home and Arsenal away so far this season, drawing 1-1 in both of those respected games. They also pushed Tottenham close when they lost 2-3 at the Molineux.
So this game isn’t a certain win for the blues!
form in the last 5 games
Wolves will be without the suspended Ruben Neves, after the midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.
Jonny Otto remains out for another month with a knee injury
Barkley is in line to return to Chelsea’s squad for the trip to Wolves after he missed this weekend’s game against Fulham with a slight ankle problem.
Chelsea’s only injury doubt for this game is midfielder Mateo Kovacic, after he limped off in Chelsea’s win at the weekend to Fulham.
Other than Kovacic, Sarri should have a full squad for the Wolves game.
Wolves’s possible line up- Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Moutinho, Saiss, Vinagre, Jota, Costa, Jimenez.
Chelsea’s possible line up- Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Giroud, Hazard.
Manager/ Player Comments
Wolves- Nuno Espirito Santo
“A team is like a player, it has ups and downs.
“You have to find solutions to help them and give them good advice and work with them. It doesn’t have to do with confidence, it has to do with so many aspects of the game – technical, tactical, mental – and we have to solve it.
“We have had a block of games with mistakes, from a team which is still growing. When the results don’t come, what is important is how you approach the situation.”
Wolves Player- Romain Saïss
“I think it will be a hard game, because this season they played well with the new coach Sarri and they have a lot of good players, but we don’t need to think about all the good players of Chelsea.
“It is a good test for us, but we have to stay together. I know maybe Chelsea get the ball for this game and we have to stay compact and think about points because we need points.
“To get points we have to play well, so it will be very hard, but I think we played well against the big teams, like we did against City, Arsenal or United, so I think it is a good example for us.
“We have to give everything on the pitch to get at least a point.”
Chelsea- Maurizio Sarri
Sarri on Wolves: “I expect a very difficult match because they are a very technical team. They have a lot of technical players. They were unlucky in the last two matches, I think it is not easy to play there.”
Round up of Sarri’s press conference (Credit- @NizaarKinsella)
- Hopes Luiz-Cesc follow Azpi and renew deals
- Says it will be difficult though
- Alonso was injured vs Fulham Kovacic too but both fit
- RLC improving in his style of play
- Won’t talk about Pulisic
Head to Head record/ Match Statistics
These two sides have met 105 times in total in all competitions over the years. Chelsea have the better head to head record with Chelsea winning 41 times. There have been 26 draws between these two sides in all competitions. Wolves have won 38 times. So Chelsea don’t have a much better head to head record, they just edge it.
The last meeting between these two sides was in February (2017) in the FA Cup which ended 0-2 to Chelsea with goals from Pedro and Diego Costa helping Conte’s side progress to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup.
Betting odds/My Prediction
Betfair have made Chelsea favourites for this encounter on Wednesday at 7:45pm away at Wolves, with a Blues win being priced at 4/5. A surprise Wolves win is being priced at 4/1. A draw between these two sides is being priced at 14/5.
Other betting odds from Betfair
First goalscorer odds
- Eden Hazard: 4/1
- Olivier Giroud: 5/1
- Jimenez: 17/2
- Leo Bonatini: 10/1
My Optimistic prediction for this game is a 1-2 Chelsea win.
My realistic prediction for this game is a 1-0 Wolves win. I just feel like they may catch us cold and return back to form with a famous win over the blues at their home ground.
By Danyal Khan
Goals; Chelsea- Pedro (4′), Loftus-Cheek (82′)
Pedro and Loftus-Cheek goals helped a laboured Chelsea side grab a much needed win in the West-London Derby at home to Fulham in the Premier League.
Surprisingly, Fulham came quicker out of the blocks, with a low Cyrus Christie attempt being saved by Kepa in the first minute, showing the Cottagers intent in this London derby to make it difficult for the blues. However, their good start was ruined in the 4th minute when Seri was dispossessed in midfield by Kante, and he set up Pedro, who after a little trickery in the box slotted into the bottom corner past Rico calmly to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead at the bridge to relive the tension within the crowd early on, to Claudio Ranieri’s frustration. That goal was also a landmark for the Blues, as that was their 1000th goal at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League!
However, Chelsea’s good start failed to materialise as they failed to add a second goal before half-time, but had 3 chances through Giroud in the first half to add to the lead, however a mixture of poor finishing and good saves by Rico kept the score only at 1-0 going into half-time. Fulham didn’t have many chances in the first half, but Ranieri will be delighted to only go in at 1-0 down, as they had a really good chance to get back in this game in the second half.
For Chelsea, they started off brightly, however they have failed to really push home their dominance in the first half. Their were some worrying signs for the blues at half time, with Alonso mishitting alot of crosses into the box, and Chelsea’s star man Eden Hazard looking subdued and being kept at arms length by Ranieri’s side. Would this all change in the second half? Was this game calling out for Loftus-Cheek in the second half to add a bit more drive to the Blues midfield, to help them push home this slender advantage in the second half?
Fulham started the second half brightly and showed much more fight in the second half, and the difference between both halves were that Fulham did create chances to get level through Chambers and Le Merchand, but Kepa produced some outstanding saves to keep Chelsea 1-0 up. However as the half grew on, Chelsea did look like extending their lead, however a woeful finish from Morata in the 72nd minute prevented that happening! But Chelsea did get the second goal to wrap up the game, and it was the sub Loftus Cheek who after some brilliant link up play with Hazard, finished calmly to give Chelsea the 3 points.
However Fulham didn’t give up and that’s credit to the work Ranieri has done in his little time so far in charge of Fulham. They showed resolve and grit to stay in the game as long as they did. For Chelsea, it wasn’t a good performance, but the most important thing is that Chelsea gained the 3 points, and they also gained a rare and needed clean sheet, most to Kepa’s credit.
That win for the Blues was their 1st win since the 4th of November in the Premier League when they beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Player and Manager Ratings
Kepa (MOTM)- 8- (Made some vital saves to keep Chelsea 1-0 up, especially from Chambers)
Azpilicueta- 6 (Average. Wasn’t tested much)
Rüdiger- 6 (Average. Wasn’t tested much)
Luiz- 6 (Average. Wasn’t tested much)
Alonso- 6 (Average. Wasn’t tested much)
Jorginho- 7 (Had time to pick lovely passes through Fulham’s defence)
Kante- 8 (Got a lovely assist for Pedro’s goal after a lovely interception on Seri)
Kovacic- 5 (No creativity. Offered nothing special to the game)
Pedro- 7 (Good goal. Other than that, didn’t do too much)
Giroud- 6 (Had quite a few chances, but Rico made some good saves)
Hazard- 6 (Average. So subdued)
Morata- 5 (Didn’t do too much other than miss an open goal)
Zappacosta- 5 (Didn’t impact the game)
Loftus-Cheek- 9 (Good goal and injected some pace and intensity to the game)
Manager rating- Maurizio Sarri- 8 (Picked a perfect team. Only criticism of him is that he brought on Loftus-Cheek too late in my opinion)
Rico- 7 (Made some vital saves from the likes of Giroud)
Le Marchand- 6 (Had a chance to score and played pretty well)
Mawson- 5 (Suspect defensively for Pedro’s goal)
Odoi- 4 (Very poor defensively)
Christie- 6 (Had a chance in the first minute, but defensively was caught out on a few occasions)
Chambers- 6 (Had a chance to score but Kepa made a great save. Was pretty influential for Fulham in the attacking sense which was surprising!)
Seri- 5 (Made a mistake for Chelsea’s first goal)
Sessegnon- 4 (Anonymous)
Cairney- 4 (Wasn’t influential at all)
Johansen- 3 (Didn’t do anything of any notice)
Mitrovic- 5 (Starved of possession in first half but grew into the game in the second half)
Ayite- 5 (Didn’t make any impact when he came on)
Kamara- 5 (Didn’t make any impact when he came on)
Kebano- 5 (Had little time to impact the game)
Manager Rating- Claudio Ranieri- 7- Choose the right team, but his team didn’t attack and trouble Chelsea’s defence enough. However they do look a lot more solid and resolute under Ranieri which is a positive. They also have a never say die attitude which could help them survive in the League.
Possession (%) 66 34
Shots 16 9
Shots on Target 9 4
Corners 4 6
Fouls 8 17
Position in PL Table
At the end of today’s action, Chelsea move up to third with 31 points, and are a point ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham due to Arsenal’s 4-2 dramatic win over Tottenham earlier today. However Liverpool are still 5 points ahead of the blues in second after their dramatic 1-0 win over Everton in the Merseyside Derby earlier today. Chelsea are still 7 points off Manchester City at the top of the table, But could reduce it next week when the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge on the weekend.]
For Fulham, they remain rock bottom of the table with 8 points, and a goal difference of -21. However it’s not all doom and gloom, as they are showing signs of progression and are only 2 points of 17th placed Huddersfield who are just outside the relegation zone. But there were many positive signs from
Next Games for both teams
Both teams are next in action midweek, with Premier League fixtures scheduled for both teams in this busy Christmas period. Both teams play on Wednesday at 7:45pm (UK time) with Chelsea facing Wolves away from home at the Molineux, with Claudio Ranieri making an emotional return to his former side Leicester where he won the title so unexpectedly!
Check out Chivers and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris’s Post Match analysis podcast later on in the week on Sportstalkline.com
By Danyal Khan
Chelsea come into this West London Derby on the back of a disappointing 3-1 loss away at Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
The Blues will be looking to get back on winning ways in the Premier League. They are now without a win in 2 Premier League games, after a draw against Everton before the International Break, and a loss against Tottenham last weekend.
Being winless in 2 Premier League games has led to the Blues slipping from 2nd place to 4th place, and suddenly they have now created a deficit of being 7 points off top placed Manchester City. And the Blues are only 1 place above 5th placed Arsenal, so there top 4 space is in danger, therefore meaning that they must pick up a win in this London Derby to get back on the right tracks in the League.
On the Other hand, Things are looking up for Fulham, after their 3-2 win against Southampton last weekend in Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge of the Cottagers.
The whites will be looking to upset their West London counterparts this weekend with a shock win at Stamford Bridge.
Form in last 5 games;
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard should be available after an ankle injury, with head coach Maurizio Sarri set to rotate his squad again after making 10 changes for the midweek Europa League win.
Olivier Giroud scored twice in that game but might not feature on Sunday after picking up an ankle problem.
Fulham have no new reported injuries for the trip to Stamford Bridge.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Kevin McDonald remain sidelined with thigh and hamstring issues.
Chelsea’s manager didn’t conduct a press conference ahead of this game due to Europa League commitments.
Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri: “Whenever I play my former teams, it’s always special. When you play against Chelsea, you have to be very attentive, but we’re working hard and I’m confident it’ll be a very good derby.”
Head to Head/ Match Statistics/ Last Meeting between the two sides
Both these teams have met 80 times over the years, with Chelsea having a significantly better head to head record in this West London Derby, with the Blues winning 45 times. There have been 26 draws between these two teams in all competitions. Surprisingly, Fulham have only beat the blues 9 times.
The Most recent meeting between these two teams came in the 2013/14 Premier League season, where Chelsea beat Fulham 3-1 at Craven Cottage. The reverse fixture earlier that season finished 2-0 to the Blues at Stamford Bridge.
Betting Odds/ My Prediction
Bet 365 have made Chelsea favourites for this West London Derby with a Chelsea win being priced at 2/11. A draw between these two teams is being priced at 7/1, and a shock Fulham win is being priced at 16/1.
My Optimistic prediction for this game is a tight 2-1 Chelsea win. It won’t be an easy game for the blues, considering that Fulham looks rejuvenated under Ranieri. However, i think that Chelsea’s quality should shine through.
However, my realistic prediction is a surprise 1-1 draw- due to the fact that Chelsea have struggled in the League recently, and if Fulham lock Jorginho and Hazard out of the game like Tottenham and Everton did, then they have enough quality to snatch a point at Stamford Bridge.
Keep an eye out for my Match Report and Player rating article after this game
By Danyal Khan
Goals; Chelsea- Giroud (26′, 37′), Hudson Odoi (60′), Morata (78′)
A first Chelsea goal for Callum Hudson-Odoi was 1 of 4 Chelsea goals in their comfortable 4-0 win over PAOK in the Europa League.
Unsurprisingly, the game started the way that everyone expected with Chelsea being on top and pushing PAOK from the minute go and this high intensity was shown in the 3rd minute when Ross Barkley’s shot was deflected wide of the PAOK goal. However, Chelsea’s quest to gain 3 points in this Group L encounter was made easier when in the 6th minute, a mistake from Khacheridi allowed Olivier Giroud in 1-on-1, but Giroud couldn’t take his shot because Khacheridi hacked Giroud to the ground and was shown a straight red card as he was the last man and he denied the Frenchman a clear goal scoring opportunity.
Chelsea from then to half-time increased the intensity on this 10 men PAOK side and had good chances through Loftus Cheek, Hudson-Odoi and Cahill to grab the first goal of the game, But none of those chances were taken. However, Chelsea weren’t going to wait much longer for the first goal of the game, as their pressure paid off in the 26th minute when Pedro produced some lovely trickery after a lovely floated ball was played over the top from Fabregas, and Pedro teed up Olivier Giroud who almost passed it into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. That goal was the Frenchman’s 3rd in his last 3 games for Chelsea in all competitions.
Straight after the goal, Chelsea thought they had the second, but Hudson-Odoi’s effort from outside the box crashed against the woodwork. The Blues intense pressure to grab the second goal paid off in the 37th minute when Fabregas chipped a lovely ball over the top of the PAOK defence, and Giroud latched onto to the ball and volleyed it first time into the net beyond the goalkeeper at his near post. That was the Frenchman’s 4th goal in his last 3 games in all competitions. Does he now start over Morata at the weekend in the West-London Derby?
The West-Londoners only other chance in the first half came from Pedro, who got his feet muddled up in the box when the ball was played into the Spaniard in the box, his shot was mishit and deflected off his other foot and hacked away to safety by the PAOK defender.
PAOK’s only half-chance in the first half came on the counter-attack, but El Kaddouri’s shot was blazed over Kepa’s bar from outside the box.
So Chelsea went in 2-0 at halftime, and that was exactly the first half that Sarri would have wanted after his side’s embarrassing display in the London Derby last weekend against Tottenham at Wembley. For PAOK, they can be proud of the way they have defended since going down to 10 men, as they only conceded 2 goals in the first half against a Chelsea team who have a point to prove to their manager.
PAOK made a sub at half-time with Warda coming on for Prijovic, and the Egyptian made a difference from PAOK causing the Chelsea backline a few problems early on in the second half and adding a new dynamic to the 10 men PAOK attack. However this short spell at the start of the second half was ended when Chelsea regain full control of the game, and in the 57th minute, Ruben Loftus-Cheek drifted into the PAOK area and his shot across the keeper was well saved by the PAOK keeper. Zappacosta also had a chance with a half-volley from a corner. Before Callum Hudson-Odoi bagged his first goal for Chelsea in the 60th minute, when his shot from inside the box beat the keeper at his near post like it did for Giroud’s second goal. The keeper could have done a lot better with that one.
Midway through the second half, Giroud was subbed off for Morata, and the Spaniard made an instant impact when in the 77th minute, Hudson-Odoi’s cross from the right-hand side was guided home by Morata to give Chelsea a 4 goal lead over the Greek opposition.
Chelsea had chances before the game finished, but neither Willian, nor Hudson Odoi, nor Barkley could add to Chelsea’s tally before the referee ended the contest.
So that win for Chelsea maintains their 100% winning record in Group L, whereas for PAOK, that knocks them out of the Europa League, which could be a blessing in disguise for them, as they will be concentrating on winning the Greek League for the first time in the while. They currently sit top in that league with a 5 point lead, so being knocked out of this competition isn’t the end of the world. PAOK gave it a go and didn’t just park the bus when they went down to 10 men, but the quality of Chelsea showed through, and it ended up being a good and professional performance from the blues.
Player and Manager Ratings
Kepa- 5 (Had nothing to do the whole game)
Zappacosta- 6 (Whipped in some good deliveries for Giroud)
Christensen- 6 (Solid performance, but wasn’t really tested by the PAOK defence.
Cahill- 7 (Made a vital tackle to halt Leo Jaba’s run into the Chelsea box in the second half)
Emerson- 8 (Brilliant in the attacking and defensive phases. Crossing was brilliant from the left-hand side)
Fabregas- 6 (Started the game well, but looked tired as the game grew on. Did get two lovely assists for Giroud’s second goal and Hudson Odoi’s goal)
Loftus-Cheek- 8 (Created multiple chances and nearly scored on multiple occasions. Really has staked a claim to gain more minutes in the Premier League team after that performance tonight)
Barkley- 5 (Average)
Pedro- 7 (Lovely assist for Giroud’s second goal)
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 9 (MOTM- an Excellent goal and assist, and provided a new dynamic to this Chelsea team tonight. There were occasions where he needs to mix his game up more because he does cut inside a lot, but he will learn as he is a very young and exciting player)
Giroud- 8 (Brilliant 2 goals and has definitely staked his claim to be included in Sarri’s line up on Sunday against Fulham)
Ampadu- 6 (Calm and composed when he came on)
Willian- 5 (Didn’t make much of an impact)
Morata- 7 (Got a goal off the bench and made an instant impact)
Manager rating- Maurizio Sarri- 8- picked a good solid team. Made 10 changes from Spurs game and mixed in some youth with experience really well.
Paschalakis- 6 (Even though he conceded 4, he made some vital saves to keep the score down)
Vieirinha- 7 (Caused a threat on the counter attack for PAOK)
Crespo- 4 (poor defensively)
Khacheridi- 1 (Sent off so early in the game. Killed any chances of a PAOK upset in the 6th minute!)
Matos- 5 (Average)
Mauricio- 5 (Average)
Wernbloom- 6 (Good defensively)
Omar El Kaddouri- 5 (Had one of PAOK’s only attempts in the match)
Shakhov- 5 (Average)
Leo Jaba- 6 (Made some good runs)
Prijovic- 4 (Starved of service)
Warda- 7 (PAOK’s MOTM- added another dimension to PAOK’s attack)
Varela- 5 (Average)
Pelkas- 5 (Didn’t have enough time to impact that game in any way)
Manager rating- Razvan Lucescu- 6- Choose the best side possible but wasn’t helped by the early red card. He did make a good decision to bring Warda on at half-time as he added another dimension to the 10 men PAOK attack.
Possession (%) 63 37
Shots 28 8
Shots on Target 10 0
Corners 12 2
Fouls 9 10
Position in Europa League table (Group L)
Chelsea are top of the group with maximum points of 15, and a +9 goal difference. Whereas PAOK are bottom of the group with only 3 points and a goal difference of -5. The second qualification spot is now up for grabs going into the final match day between BATE and Vidi who both have 6 points, but BATE are currently ahead of them in the table of tonight’s win against the Hungarian opposition because they have a better goal difference.
Next games for both teams
Chelsea are next in action on Sunday when they take on Fulham at 11am (UK time) in the West-London Derby at Stamford Bridge. In terms of next European action for the blues, on the final matchday, they take on Vidi away in Hungary at 5:55 (UK time) on the 13th December. Whereas for the Greeks, they are next in action on the 3rd of December where they take Lamia away from home at 5:00pm (UK time). They are next in European action for the last time on the 13th December, when they face BATE Borisov at home at 5:55pm (UK time).
By Danyal Khan
Chelsea will be looking to tie up the group on Thursday and guarantee that they will top group L with a win over PAOK at Stamford Bridge at 8pm.
They will be looking to continue their 100% win record in Group L, which was in doubt in the last match for Chelsea in the Europa League, where a goal from Olivier Giroud was enough for Chelsea to see off BATE in Belarus.
On the Other hand, PAOK need a positive result from Stamford Bridge to keep their hopes of qualification from Group L alive, considering that they sit 3 points behind second-placed Vidi in Group L.
A failure to win at Stamford Bridge, coupled with a draw in the game between BATE and Vidi, would end PAOK’s European adventures for another year. Victory for Vidi away at BATE in the early kickoff, meanwhile, will render this fixture a dead rubber for Razvan Lucescu‘s side.
Chelsea are currently in 1st place with 12 points and a positive goal difference of +5.
The reverse fixtures between the two sides in Greece on matchday 1 in the Europa League finished 1-0 to the blues with a Willian goal in the 7th minute being enough for the blues to pick up the 3 points in Greece.
Maurizio Sarri is expected to rotate his squad ahead of this group match on Thursday, considering that they play on Sunday in the London Derby against their neighbours Fulham in the Premier League.
This isn’t a must-win game for Sarri’s blues, but finishing the group early would mean that the Italian boss could use the youngsters like Ampadu and Hudson-Odoi in their last group game, away in Hungary against Vidi. So that should be the incentive for Sarri’ blues to get the job done on Thursday.
The Other incentive for Sarri’s blues is to get that Tottenham performance out of their system, so this group game provides them with an opportunity to bounce back.
Form in the Europa League;
An injury knocked sustained by Eden Hazard aside, Sarri has a fully-fit squad to choose from on Thursday night.
A number of fringe players are likely to get the nod here, even if top spot is not yet secured, so the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Emerson Palmieri and Davide Zappacosta should all return to the fold.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also in contention, a month on from scoring a hat-trick in a comfortable win against BATE here, while Olivier Giroud is expected to start instead of Alvaro Morata up top.
In terms of the visitors, Mauricio may return alongside Pontus Wernbloom in defensive midfield if Lucescu continues to chop and change in that department.
Dimitris Pelkas is another in line to return on the back of the loss to Vidi, though Aleksandar Prijovic should continue to lead the line after following up his goal in Serbia’s win over Lithuania with a strike against Xanthi.
Meanwhile, Omar El Kaddouri is at risk of missing PAOK’s final game should he pick up a yellow card on Thursday evening.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Caballero; Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson; Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Barkley; Pedro, Giroud, Willian
PAOK possible starting lineup:
Paschalakis; Matos, Varela, Crespo, Tosca; Wernbloom, Mauricio; Limnios, Pelkas, Kaddouri; Prijovic
Manager and Player Comments;
Chelsea Manager- Maurizio Sarri
Summary of the press conference (Credit: Nizaar Kinsella)
- Hazard injured, not seriously, Moses out too
- Hudson-Odoi in 18 vs PAOK, Sarri explained he needs to improve
- Jorginho-Kante won’t switch positions
- Sarri met every Chelsea player after the loss to Spurs to discuss their “lack of determination”
Chelsea Striker Olivier Giroud
Giroud on Spurs loss: “We were not mentally ready to play this kind of game. I don’t know [why]. If I had the answer maybe I could be in Sarri’s staff.”
Giroud on squad reaction to Spurs defeat: “It was a very disappointing result. The manager was not happy at all with our performance. We just want to take the defeat. It was our first defeat but it was hard to accept it.”
Giroud on understanding Sarri: “I think we understand his philosophy and how he wants us to play on the pitch. Basically, it is about following the ball, pressing high, being compact, but we didn’t do it against Spurs. So we have to come back to these principles.”
Giroud on three goals in four matches: “As a striker, it is always nice for confidence to score. I am not happy with the result but it is nice to come on the pitch and be efficient. I had different preparation because I came back [from France] after many in the team”
Giroud on fighting for starts at Chelsea: “It is quite tough for me in these past few weeks. I am a competitor and I want to be on the pitch to reach our targets and give my best. It is a big club with another good striker so the competition is quite fair.”
Giroud on change of position for Kante: “I think N’Golo can play in every single position in midfield. The manager’s philosophy means Jorginho and Cesc play an important part of our game. In the manager’s mind, N’Golo is more efficient to play box-to-box.”
Match Facts/ Head to Head Stats
Chelsea’s 1-0 win in Salonika on matchday one was the first meeting between these two clubs in a UEFA competition.
The English side are now unbeaten in five matches against Greek opposition and have won both home matches, most recently beating Olympiacos 3-0 in the 2007-08 Champions League last 16.
PAOK have a good record away to Premier League opposition, meanwhile, drawing 1-1 with Arsenal and winning 2-1 at Tottenham Hotspur on their previous two visits to these shores.
Betting Odds/My Prediction
Sky Bet have made Chelsea clear favourites for this game with a Chelsea win being priced at 1/3. A draw between these two sides is being priced at 4/1. And an unexpected PAOK win at Stamford Bridge is being priced at 8/1.
I am going for a tight 2-1 win to Chelsea. I think they will bounce back after that Tottenham result, but due to the fact that PAOK needs a positive result at the Bridge to keep their hopes of qualification alive, I think they will give it all they got at Stamford Bridge. However, I think the quality of Chelsea will just show through, hence why I have gone for a Chelsea win.
By Danyal Khan