Chelsea will play hosts to AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League, with Graham Potter seeking to stabilise his side’s European campaign.

Graham Potter’s Premier League reign as new Chelsea boss may have got to a winning start, but the cracks of the previous regime were still evident. While the former Brighton & Hove Albion boss has three points domestically, halting their European slump would be next on the agenda when AC Milan take on Chelsea this week.

Conor Gallagher’s late strike against Crystal Palace ensured three points. But Chelsea’s European hopes hang by a thread. The Blues currently sit bottom of their group after two games, playing a 1-1 draw with Red Bull Salzburg the last time out.

Chelsea have taken just a single point so far, and Potter will know the importance of a first win to kick-start their European adventure. Ahead of them is the challenge of beating AC Milan, who currently sit atop their Group E.

Milan have had a mixed-bag start to their Serie A title defence. The Rossoneri currently sit in 5th place, with Lazio in 4th on goal difference. But despite the ups and downs in Serie A, Milan have fared well in Europe. After starting their campaign with a tough 1-1 draw away to Red Bull Salzburg, the Rossoneri ran out 3-1 winners against Dinamo Zagreb in the second game.

Stefano Pioli will have to tinker with his squad ahead of the midweek clash. The AC Milan manager will already have the weekend clash with Juventus on his mind. That top-draw Serie A clash will be sandwiched between the two Chelsea games. There should be optimism among the Milan ranks ahead of their trip to London, but it sure is likely to be a tough clash.

Team News & Tactics


Despite many doubts about the fitness of at least four first-team players, Chelsea have received positive news. N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy were huge doubts ahead of the AC Milan clash, while Marc Cucurella and Carney Chukwuemeka were potential absentees.

The quartet has since taken part in training, although their involvement at Stamford Bridge will remain in Graham Potter’s hands from the start. Kepa Arrizabalaga will likely continue between the sticks, while Kante’s inclusion will depend on the clean chit from the medical team.

In terms of tactics, Potter has adopted a 4-3-3 style by ditching the more pragmatic approach taken up by predecessor Thomas Tuchel with a back three. The new Chelsea boss will likely continue with Wesley Fofana and Thiago Silva at the heart of the Chelsea defence, although he could recall Kalidou Koulibaly in place of the latter.

Potter could also allow Conor Gallagher to start on the midfield’s right side. Jorginho might be dropped to the bench after a string of dismal performances, with Mateo Kovacic likely to take his place in the middle. Meanwhile, Mason Mount could come into midfield.

Christian Pulisic might come into the attacking unit, while Potter may stick with the other two attackers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling, in his front three. There may have been an opportunity for Denis Zakaria in midfield, and Armando Broja in the attack had Chelsea been in a positive position in their Champions League group.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; James, Fofana, Koulibaly, Chilwell; Gallagher, Kovacic, Mount; Sterling, Aubameyang, Pulisic

AC Milan

Stefano Pioli knows well how stretched his medical room currently is. As many as seven first-team players are obtaining treatment and remain potential absentees for the Chelsea trip. Chief among them are Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Divock Origi, Theo Hernandez and Mike Maignan.

Moreover, the win over Empoli at the weekend came at a cost as Pioli saw a further three players get injured. Simon Kjaer, Alexis Saelemaekers and Davide Calabria all suffered problems, casting doubts over their involvement at the weekend.

Hence, Pioli’s preferred starting eleven remains a mystery, although we will conjure up the possible outcome here based on the players available. Sergino Dest could be one of the starters, while Pierre Kalulu and Fikayo Tomori should pair up at the heart of the AC Milan defence.

Alongside Tomori, Olivier Giroud could make a sensational return to Chelsea, although he will be hoping to hurt his former team this time. The Frenchman could be joined by Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic in a front three, while Charles De Ketelaere could fill the creative void.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Dest, Kalulu, Tomori, Ballo-Toure; Bennacer, Tonali; Rebic, De Ketelaere, Leao; Giroud

Key Stats

  • Graham Potter picked up his first win as Chelsea manager away at Crystal Palace.
  • Chelsea will face AC Milan for the first time since the 1999/00 Champions League campaign.
  • Chelsea have not lost to Italian opposition since a loss to Inter Milan in March 2010.
  • AC Milan have not won on English turf since February 2005.
  • AC Milan have suffered seven draws and twelve defeats in their 19 trips to face English opposition.

Player to Watch

Raheem Sterling

Embed from Getty Images

With the pedigree of experience and quality the English attacker carries, Sterling is the player in focus ahead of the AC Milan clash. The winger has been in decent form since joining Chelsea, but he needs to take his game to the next level.

The stage could not have been perfect, as Sterling has the opportunity to propel Chelsea from their misery in the Champions League. Milan might be tough opposition, but these are games where players tend to make a name for themselves. And Sterling will be eager to relish such a chance.


Chelsea 1-1 AC Milan

Chelsea may have won at the weekend, but the cracks in the team were very much visible. Some problems have been carried forward from the previous regime. And Potter will need more time to gel and create a standard of his own with this Chelsea team.

On the other hand, AC Milan have the firepower to hurt Chelsea where Crystal Palace could not at the weekend. However, with both teams likely to take a rather pragmatic approach, this game has the hallmarks of ending in a rather low-scoring draw.

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