MX23RW : Wednesday, December 19 12:30:51

Sarri hopes to avoid Europa League hangover as Chelsea face Southampton

The Blues manager made eight changes for the 1-0 win against Hungarian champions Vidi.

Maurizio Sarri hopes to avoid a Europa League hangover in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Southampton.

Chelsea dropped points for the first time this season after their opening Europa League win at PAOK in Greece, drawing 0-0 at West Ham.

Sarri made eight changes for Thursday’s 1-0 win over Hungarian champions Vidi in the second Europa League game and is optimistic there will be no ill-effects at Saints.

The 59-year-old Italian head coach said: “This match we have changed eight players. In Greece I think only five. I hope we can do better this time.”

Alvaro Morata scored for the second time this season against Vidi
Alvaro Morata scored for the second time this season against Vidi (Nigel French/PA)

Alvaro Morata’s goal proved the difference against Vidi.

It was just the striker’s second goal of the season, after he spurned a host of chances earlier in the game.

Sarri is credited with bringing the fun back to Chelsea, but Morata was tearful after finding the net.

Asked if the striker should have more fun, Sarri said: “They have to enjoy, but I want to enjoy myself first of all. Usually I have more fun when I win. I don’t know why.”

N'Golo Kante is expected to return for Chelsea after a rare midweek rest
N’Golo Kante is expected to return for Chelsea after a rare midweek rest (Victoria Jones/PA)

Eden Hazard is expected to start, with Sarri likely to revert to his first-choice line-up as he seeks to maintain Chelsea’s unbeaten start.

Defenders Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso are set to return as the Blues chase a sixth win from eight games.

Olivier Giroud is likely to replace Morata and Jorginho is anticipated to come in for Cesc Fabregas, with N’Golo Kante also likely to be back in the starting XI.

Willian or Pedro will likely be in competition for one place alongside Giroud and Hazard.

Mateo Kovacic played the full 90 minutes against Vidi, so could drop to the substitutes’ bench, with Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek options in midfield.


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool1714303773045
2Manchester CityMan City17142148103844
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs17130431161539
4Chelsea17114235142137
5Arsenal17104337231434
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd177552929026
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves177461919025
8Everton176652422224
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham177372525024
10Watford177372325-224
11Bournemouth177282528-323
12Leicester CityLeicester176472121022
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton176382024-421
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle174491422-816
15Crystal Palace1743101423-915
16Cardiff CityCardiff1742111733-1614
17Southampton172691632-1612
18Burnley1733111533-1812
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield1724111028-1810
20Fulham1723121642-269

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