Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Europa League
meeting between Chelsea
and Videoton at Stamford Bridge. The Blues made a perfect start to their European campaign by seeing off PAOK
two weeks ago and now have Group L top spot, currently occupied by BATE, in their sights, whereas their Hungarian opponents were beaten 2-0
in their opener.
Vidi, as they are more commonly known, are not the best of travellers in Europe and head into this match as rank outsiders to pick up a result. The visitors are the fifth-lowest ranked side in UEFA's coefficient of all the group-stage qualifiers, so it would not be a surprise to see Blues boss Maurizio Sarri
rotate his side this evening. He promised as much, in fact, in last night's pre-match presser...
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Kepa; Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson; Fabregas, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic; Pedro, Morata, Willian
SUBS: Caballero, Ampadu, Alonso, Moses, Kante, Barkley, Hazard
The Blues have gone with a slightly stronger lineup than many, myself included, expected. There may be eight changes from the 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the weekend, but first-choice keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is involved from the off again, as are Mateo Kovacic and Willian. There is also a surprise return for Pedro, who has missed the past two weeks with a shoulder injury and is not yet back to full fitness.
With Pedro and Willian occupying the wide spots, there is no room in the starting lineup for Victor Moses and, more disappointingly for Chelsea fans, Callum Hudson-Odoi - the latter not making the squad at all, in fact! Ethan Ampadu is part of the 18-man squad tonight, but it is otherwise an extremely strong bench which contains Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Marcos Alonso, Moses and Willy Caballero.
Among the eight new faces for Chelsea tonight is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who like Pedro has shaken off an injury problem to start from the off. It is an entirely new back four, with Davide Zappacosta and Emerson Palmieri being given some minutes at wing-back, either side of captain Gary Cahill and fit-again Andreas Christensen. No surprise to see Cesc Fabregas come into midfield, meanwhile, as he makes his second start of the campaign.
VIDEOTON TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Tujvel; Vinicius, Fiola, Juhasz, Stopira; Hadzic, Huszti, Milanov; Nego, Nikolov, Scepovic
SUBS: Kovacsik, Hangya, Tamas, Berecz, Patkai, Hodzic, Kovacs
Switching attention to the visiting side, boss Marko Nikolic
has made two changes from Saturday's win over Diosgyori on Sunday. Milanov replaces Patkai in midfield, while Nikolov also comes in for Kovacs in what is expected to be a 4-3-2-1 formation that is led by Scepovic. It could be a busy night for Tomas Tujvel, who was also selected in goal for the 2-0 loss to BATE in last month's Group L opener.
Interestingly, Vidi skipper Roland Juhasz features in the starting lineup tonight, 13 years on from making his debut at this very ground for Anderlecht. That came in a Champions League tie, which the Blues won 1-0, but the occasion is just as big for his current club this evening. The other big call made by Nikolic is to stick with Paulo Vinicius from the most recent Hungarian top-flight outing.
Alvaro Morata is handed his eighth start of the season tonight, but just a third since the start of last month. The Spaniard has netted just one goal this term and has been badly out of form since the turn of the year, seeing him relegated to appearances from the bench in the Premier League. Morata comes in as one of eight changes for the home side.
Tonight's match is Chelsea's first Europa League group-stage outing at Stamford Bridge, having entered at the last-32 stage five years ago when lifting the trophy in Amsterdam. That was their only previous participation in the competition, and they will be aiming to do likewise come next May to guarantee a spot in next season's Champions League. That said, they also look good value to finish in the Premier League's top four.
Chelsea had an early Willian goal to thank for their slender victory away at PAOK in their Group L opener two weeks ago. The Brazilian blasted home inside the opening seven minutes to put all three points on the board from what was the Blues' toughest fixture on paper. Sarri was not overly pleased with the scoreline that night, claiming that it did not reflect his side's dominance.
The Italian had a point - his side were dominant in Greece and deserved to be home and dry before the 90 minutes were up. Lessons will no doubt have been learned, and the Blues now have a chance to take a giant leap towards the knockout phase of the competition with victory over the bottom seeds on home soil tonight. Sarri made just a handful of changes for that trip to PAOK, suggesting that he is taking the competition seriously.
On the face of it, eight changes tonight does not give the impression that the Europa League is high on the Italian's list of objectives. That is far from the truth, though, as the Italian is keen to lift his first piece of major silverware as a manager, while momentum is also key. This stage of the Europa League, and indeed the first knockout round, can be a slog, so Chelsea will just want to get the job done in as efficient manner as possible.
The Blues welcome BATE here in three weeks before travelling to Belarus for the second part of that double-header two weeks later. Then comes the visit of PAOK on November 29 and an away trip to Vidi on December 13. It is worth noting that those last two games come immediately after huge Premier League matches against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, so focus, it is fair to say, will be elsewhere.
Sarri will hope that his side's last-32 spot will be booked by the time their fifth and sixth games are played, however, and they can move a giant step towards achieving that by winning here tonight against one of the competition's lowest-ranked sides. The Blues remain unbeaten after nine games under their latest Italian boss, although they did suffer defeat to Man City in the curtain-raising Community Shield in August.
Of those nine matches, Chelsea have won seven. It is only in the last two weeks that their perfect run came to an end, following up a stalemate at West Ham United with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool. Two points from the last six on offer in the Premier League may have halted their momentum slightly, but the draw with Liverpool was far from disastrous and they did also beat the Reds in the EFL Cup in between the two league outings.
Chelsea looked good value to overcome Liverpool in that most recent match, only for Daniel Sturridge to produce a moment of brilliance in the final minute. A draw was a fair result on reflection, as both teams created and missed good chances across the 90 minutes. It leaves the Blues within two points of Manchester City and Liverpool at the Premier League summit in what is shaping up to be an exciting title race.
The Blues' reward for beating Liverpool in the EFL Cup is a home match against Derby County, who are now managed by Frank Lampard. Factoring in their Europa League and Premier League matches, there are a busy few weeks to come for Sarri immediately after the impending international break. Chelsea's squad depth will be put to use, then, and the Italian certainly has plenty of players to choose from - as tonight's team selection goes a long way to showing.
Among Chelsea's games over the next couple of months are huge showdowns with Manchester United (October 20) and Tottenham Hotspur (November 24). The Premier League remains the Blues' top priority this term, and there are plenty of parallels between this season and two years ago when Antonio Conte guided them to the title, but Sarri has been desperate to play down title talk.
DID YOU KNOW?
Chelsea last lost a European game on home soil in September 2013 against Basel, but they have drawn each of their last three here in continental fixtures. They won all three of their Europa League knockout games 3-1 here five years ago en route to the final, meanwhile, where they beat Benfica 2-0 at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Videoton make the trip to West London on the back of three successive wins in domestic competition, with two of those coming in the Hungarian top flight to just about remain in the title race. Vidi won the title last season for the third time in seven years, but they currently find themselves eight points adrift of leaders Ferencvaros with one game in hand still to play.
Vidi's slow start could be put down to their European commitments as they have already contested nine fixtures on the continent, including a 2-0 loss to BATE in their Group L opener two weeks ago - goals from Jasse Tuominen and Filipenko Egor earning the Belarussian side a straightforward win at the Groupama Stadium. The visitors are, as already touched upon a little earlier, the fifth-lowest ranked of the group-stage qualifiers.
That said, Nikolic's men came extremely close to qualifying for the Champions League this season. The Hungarians came through three rounds of qualifiers to set up a playoff tie with AEK Athens, which they lost 3-2 on aggregate to end their hopes of reaching European football's prestige club competition. They instead have to settle for a place in the Europa League - this their second ever participation.
They last competed in the Europa League six years ago when placed in a group with Genk, Basel and Sporting Lisbon. Vidi lost all three away games that season, but they did collect six points on home soil and that will be the target this time around, too. Taking away points off BATE, PAOK and group favourites Chelsea will not be easy, with a point being the goal for the visitors tonight.
Videoton have won just two of their nine European outings in 2018-19, despite that run past F91 Dudelange, Ludogorets and Malmo in the Champions League qualifiers, but they do remain unbeaten outside of Hungary as they have drawn all four away matches up to this point. Three away wins from 23 matches on the continent, however, spanning across eight European campaigns, is not the most impressive of records.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! This match will mark the first time that Chelsea and Videoton have faced off in a competitive fixture. Vidi's only previous meeting with an English opponent was in 1985 when famously beating Manchester United on penalties in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals following a 1-1 aggregate draw, while the Blues have never met a team from Hungary.
With kickoff at Stamford Bridge now a little over five minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.
Maurizio Sarri: "I think the Europa League is a very important competition so we have to play very well. They are a good team, they played very well in the first match and were unlucky. So it is very important for me to play at Stamford Bridge in Europe. For the club at the moment I think it is more important to play in the Champions League, but I want to reach the end of the Europa League. I don't know [if we're favourites]. The Europa League is a very unusual competition, because we don't know the names in the second round. Eight teams come in from the Champions League, but we want to arrive at the end of the competition. It is more difficult because in the Champions League you have usually 80 hours, the Europa League in England you only have 60-64 hours. In Italy usually if you play at home on Thursday you play on Sunday, but at 8-9pm. I think in England it is more difficult."
Marko Nikolic: "Chelsea are in my opinion in the top 10 teams in the world. I'm very curious how the team react for this match. If we play with our best focus and qualities we can be a very unpleasant team. We didn't come here just to enjoy and take photos. We will try to our best as always. This team has a big mentality and they will try to make a big, big, big surprise."
PREDICTION! Maurizio Sarri has made eight changes for this first ever Europa League group clash at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea will still be expected to cruise to victory no matter what XI has been fielded. The Blues have momentum on their side, even if they were pegged back late on by Liverpool in their most recent outing, and they should keep that going with three more Group L points tonight.
Sarri acknowledges that it will be very difficult to win this competition, especially when attempting to balance the Europa League with Premier League commitments. The Blues will be expected to progress through to the last 32 as group winners, but from the last 16 onwards it becomes a lot more difficult - especially when the Champions League dropouts arrive. Vidi boss Nikolic describes tonight's opponents as one of the best teams in the world, meanwhile, with this a major test for the Hungarian visitors.
KICKOFF: Chelsea get us up and running in West London, aiming to make it two wins from two in the Europa League. Maurizio Sarri is clearly keen to get the job done in Group L as soon as possible, hence this strong-looking lineup tonight.
The Blues have three of their Premier League regulars from the off tonight, so this is a chance for some of the fringe players - Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata
among them - to stake their claim. Vidi will happily accept a point.
Chelsea, as expected, have been dominant in terms of possession in these opening five minutes. The Hungarian visitors have formed a solid shape at the back, however, and now have another 85 minutes to see through!
Not a great deal of action early on at Stamford Bridge, with Vidi looking pretty comfortable at the back. A slick passing move has just come to little; a right-sided cross being cleared to spark a counter for the visitors, which Cahill thwarted.
CLOSE! A scare for Chelsea here as Roland Juhasz made contact with the corner and sent the ball towards the bottom corner. If not for Davide Zappacosta, it would have ended in the back of the net - a crucial block from the full-back.
Having just enjoyed their best moment of the match, Vidi are caught out on the counter. The Chelsea attack lacked pace, however, and it ended disappointingly as Willian drilled the ball into the stands from 15 yards.
SHOT! A second attempt in the space of a couple of minutes for Chelsea, this latest one coming via the boot of Emerson. A great little run from the full-back, who netted against Liverpool last week, but the shot at the end of it was too high.
SHOT! Chelsea have become a lot more threatening since surviving that little scare six minutes or so ago. Willian shoots wide from a glorious position in the middle of the box - he should have taken it on first time rather than waiting another second.
Mateo Kovacic is the latest player to get a shot away, but this was a very weak effort that sailed over the crossbar. Loic Nego is cautioned for his challenge on Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has to leave the field to change his ripped top.
CHANCE! Alvaro Morata really is lacking confidence, as he fails to take the biggest chance of the match so far. It was a fine through-ball to set him free, but he failed to find the target at all with just Tomas Tujvel to beat, instead picking out the stanchion.
It was Pedro who played that perfectly-weighted pass through for Alvaro Morata, by the way, but his compatriot could not take his big chance. Nearly a quarter of the match played and the Blues are now starting to knock on the door.
Emerson cuts across the ball, sending it well wide of the opposition goal. The full-back then got in behind on the overlap, but he could not pick out a teammate when put under pressure. Vidi just having to hold on a little now.
GROUP L UPDATE! Well how about this for a scoreline from the other Group L match. BATE trail 3-0 to PAOK with just 17 minutes on the clock. At Stamford Bridge, meanwhile, Pedro's shot is easily dealt with by Tujvel.
Alvaro Morata with another half-chance, as he gets in front of his man but directs the right-sided cross wide of goal. The whole game is being played in Vidi's half, but the Blues will start to get more and more frustrated the longer it remains goalless.
A well-worked routine from a Chelsea free kick almost pays off, but again Alvaro Morata cannot keep his effort on target. Vidi are really struggling to get the ball out of their own half, but half an hour in it remains goalless in London.
There has been no change to the flow of the match; Chelsea are completely controlling things, without really asking too many questions of Vidi. The hosts' best chance fell to Morata, who fluffed his lines from the one-on-one position.
Another cross from the right-hand side causes some danger, but Mateo Kovacic cannot quite get hold of it. Chelsea probing away but they have been unable to carve out any killer opportunities since that big chance for Alvaro Morata a little earlier.
Chelsea with 72% possession now as we enter the final 10 minutes of the first half. Ruben Loftus-Cheek should have done a little better with his opportunity, taking one touch too many and allowing the Vidi defender to get across.
CLOSE! Gary Cahill gets to Willian's set piece but cannot quite keep his header on target, though it did take a touch on its way through for another corner. The ball was half-cleared to Davide Zappacosta, who blasts high into the stands.
Videoton are putting their bodies on the line to hold on until half time. The pressure is really starting to build on the visitors now as Chelsea win themselves yet another corner, which is cleared towards the front post.
PENALTY APPEAL! A great run from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, taking the ball past a few men before going to ground under contact from Paulo Vinicius. It would have been soft, but those are so often given - especially in Europe. Vidi a little fortunate there.
CHANCE! Almost the ultimate sucker punch here as Andreas Christensen and Kepa Arrizabalaga get in a right muddle. Loic Nego did not give up on it and flashed the loose ball wide. Moments later, Nikolov went down in the box under contact from Cahill but no penalty was given.
SAVE! This game has burst into life at the end of the first half. Nego drifted inside from a wide starting position, cut inside his man but panicked with just Kepa to beat, seeing his weak shot saved from seven yards. Before that, Zappacosta's shot was easily dealt with.
HALF TIME: CHELSEA 0-0 VIDEOTON
The referee brings the first half to a close at Stamford Bridge, where it remains goalless at the midway point. Chelsea had the better of the chances, but Videoton had some promising moments in the final stages of the half and also had a good penalty shout rejected.
Chelsea made a bright start in their first ever home group game in this competition, with Willian and Emerson Palmieri flashing shots wide inside the opening 10 minutes. The hosts' first clear-cut opening fell the way of Alvaro Morata, who slotted wide from a one-on-one position once slipped through by compatriot Pedro.
Zappacosta was wasteful with another couple of attempts on his return to the side - one of eight changes from the Blues' 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the weekend - although he did force Tomas Tujvel into a routine stop with one of them. Tujvel was also needed to keep out Pedro, as a frustrated Chelsea resorted to shots from range.
Chelsea felt that they should have had a penalty when Ruben Loftus-Cheek's run was halted by Paulo Vinicius, but Vidi had an even bigger shout rejected five minutes later as Gary Cahill cut across Boban Nikolov. Loic Nego then slotted a shot wide when capitalising in a breakdown in communication at the back for Chelsea, before forcing Kepa Arrizabalaga into his first stop in a strong end to the first half for the visitors.
CHELSEA SUBS: Caballero, Ampadu, Alonso, Moses, Kante, Barkley, Hazard
VIDEOTON: Kovacsik, Hangya, Tamas, Berecz, Patkai, Hodzic, Kovacs
KICKOFF: Vidi, who are on course for a shock result with 45 minutes left to play here, get the second half up and running. An improvement is needed from Chelsea, but the likes of Eden Hazard, Ross Barkley and Victor Moses remain on the bench for now.
SAVE! Kepa Arrizabalaga made a save at the end of the first half and he has just kept his side on level terms with another. Nego, who is Vidi's most threatening player, pounces on a loose ball in the box and attempted to guide it into the bottom corner.
On the basis of the last seven minutes of this match, including the end of the first half, Vidi have arguably done more to warrant a goal. Chelsea really do need to step things up if they are to avoid a first competitive defeat under Sarri.
Loftus-Cheek, denied a penalty in the first half, wins his side a free kick in a promising position. Willian and Pedro stood over the ball, with the former's angled delivery hitting a visiting player and trickling past the post.
Chelsea have upped the ante over the past few minutes, but it is not really enough to find a way through. Sarri will be reluctant to do so, but we may well see Eden Hazard in the next 20 minutes as the home side chase a goal.
CHELSEA SUB! A lot earlier than expected, Eden Hazard has been brought on for the returning Pedro. Hazard has two goals in two games and is arguably the continent's most in-form player right now. Vidi will see this as a huge compliment.
YELLOW CARD! Cesc Fabregas chips the ball into the box, but Alvaro Morata could not bring it under pressure. The Spanish striker felt that he had been stopped from getting it by Juhasz, though not enough contact was made. Milanov is booked for pulling back on Willian.
GROUP L UPDATE! The home side have not got going since the restart, and even Eden Hazard's delivery has been a little off so far. With half an hour to go, Videoton are on course for a massive result. PAOK still lead BATE by three goals in Belarus.
Maurizio Sarri is looking very frustrated down on the touchline. The visitors are experts at drawing away games in Europe and Chelsea have drawn their last three year in continental competition; a run that looks like being extended at this rate.
SHOT! The space opens up for Georgi Milanov, who could only shoot high and wide from 10 yards when he had a couple of players alongside him. Should Vidi bag a goal it would not exactly be smash-and-grab. Loftus-Cheek blasts over up the other end.
Georgi Milanov ghosts in towards the back post but cannot get to the ball ahead of Andreas Christensen. Nego, who is already on a booking, barges into Blues skipper Gary Cahill and is perhaps fortunate not to be shown a second yellow.
CHELSEA SUB! One English midfielder replaces another, as Ross Barkley takes over from Ruben Loftus-Cheek in a like-for-like change. Alvaro Morata is complaining to the referee after being caught in the face by a stray arm - little in it.
SAVE! Ross Barkley has already done more than Ruben Loftus-Cheek in his two minutes on the field, as he gets a long-range shot on target. Simple enough stop for Tujvel, but a save to make nonetheless. Twenty minutes left for Chelsea to find a goal.
GOAL! CHELSEA 1-0 VIDEOTON (ALVARO MORATA)
A nice little finish from Alvaro Morata puts Chelsea in front, while also ending the Spaniard's goal drought in the process. Cesc Fabregas's clipped pass was flicked on by Willian, giving Morata the chance to fire home from close range.
Ross Barkley loses his footing and sees his shot hit Alvaro Morata when he eventually got to the ball. Eden Hazard played a key part in that move, and Chelsea are now starting to look a lot more threatening. Vidi need to pick themselves up.
CHELSEA SUB! Victor Moses for Willian was the obvious change for Sarri to make, giving Chelsea some more fresh legs in attack. With less than 15 minutes to go, Chelsea are surely on course for three more points in Group L.
Vidi have not really offered a great deal since the opening five minutes of the second half. The visitors have expended so much energy on repelling their opponents; now they need to pick themselves up as they are still very much in this match.
OFF THE BAR!
Eden Hazard whips in a delightful free-kick delivery, which was met by the head of Ross Barkley. The contact was a tad too heavy, with the ball clipping the crossbar on its way through. Istvan Kovacs
is on for Huszti in the visitors' first change.
VIDEOTON SUBS! Hadzic and Milanov leave the field; Hodzic and Patkai are on in their place. The Blues do not really look under any threat at this point, but as long as it remains just 1-0 the visitors are still in the game.
SAVE! What a huge save this is from Kepa Arrizabalaga to deny the visiting side a late leveller. Istvan Kovacs had time to set himself for the outside-of-the-boot shot, but Kepa was equal to it down low and Victor Moses cleared the loose ball.
Hard to criticise Alvaro Morata on a night that he scored what is looking like being the winner, but he has also wasted some good opportunities either side. The Spaniard takes Eden Hazard's pass wide and strikes the ball across goal.
Two minutes of normal time to play in West London and Chelsea are still not safe just yet. Full credit to Videoton for making a real contest out of this - they will argue that they deserve an equaliser, too.
Ross Barkley is invited to shoot from right on the edge of the box, which he is willing to do. The ball was goalbound, but it hit an opposition player - one of three to close him down - and deflected a fair way wide of the target.
A good defensive header from Alvaro Morata will surely get Chelsea over the line. Videoton would love one more chance, but with 60 seconds of the match left to play it looks as though they will fall to a narrow defeat.
FULL TIME: CHELSEA 1-0 VIDEOTON
Chelsea see through the remainder of the match to make it two wins from two in Group L. The Blues had Alvaro Morata to thank for the victory; the Spanish striker ending his mini scoring drought with a 70th-minute strike to undo all of Videoton's hard work up until that point in the match.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events from Stamford Bridge. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
, and be sure to join us again on Saturday for updates from the latest round of Premier League matches.