Chelsea host Ajax on Tuesday night in the Champions League group stages and a victory would be a big step to helping seal qualification.
The Blues currently sit top of Group H in the European competition and are locked together with the Dutch outfit on six points from three games, while Valencia have four points and Lille have one.
Frank Lampard’s side managed an impressive 1-0 away victory against Ajax in their previous European outing and another win against them at Stamford Bridge would be a big statement.
Chelsea have won seven of their last eight games across all competitions and beat Watford 2-1 at the weekend in the Premier League.
It’s going to require a top performance to get the better of a dangerous Ajax side, but Lampard should make four changes to his line-up from the weekend.
That would give a freshness to the side to take on Ajax and there is also a home fixture on Saturday afternoon against Crystal Palace to think about.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Goalkeeper)
Chelsea’s undisputed number one should continue in net against Ajax and it’s only domestic cup competitions where Lampard should rotate his goalkeeper. Kepa proved his value with a stunning last-ditch save to earn three points against Watford and he could be busy in the Champions League.
Reece James (Right-back)
—Replace Cesar Azpilicueta—
James has not looked out of place in any of his seven first-team appearances this season and he deserves a shot to start in a big match. The full-back should be given his toughest test yet against Ajax and it would allow senior captain Azpilicueta a night off to rest.
Kurt Zouma (Centre-back)
Chelsea’s pairing in the heart of defence picks itself at the moment, with the first of those players being powerhouse Zouma. The Frenchman looked shaky at the beginning of the season, but is now back to his best in West London and is barely putting a foot wrong at the back.
Fikayo Tomori (Centre-back)
Tomori has made a remarkable step up to the first-team this season and is proving he can already handle the big occasion. The defender impressed in the first meeting with Ajax and his pace helped nullify their threat.
Marcos Alonso (Left-back)
—Replace Emerson Palmieri—
Emerson returned from injury against Watford and looks the better fit for the first-choice option at left-back moving forward, but Alonso did very little wrong during his absence and it was harsh for him to be dropped. Alonso should come back in against Ajax and it’s sensible to ease Emerson back.
Jorginho is the heart of Chelsea’s midfield and is too important to omit from the side, which is why he should continue in the centre of the park against Ajax. He will look to dominate possession at home and he’s in stunning form right now for the Blues, which was highlighted by his assist against Watford.
N’Golo Kante (Midfielder)
—Replace Mateo Kovacic—
Kante is back in contention after his recent absence and he should come back into the XI to add his world-class quality in the midfield. Kovacic should be the man to make way despite the fact he’s playing his best football in a Chelsea shirt, but the competition for places it tough and he is a great option from the bench.
Mason Mount (Midfielder)
Mount’s importance to the Blues was highlighted by his absence from the starting XI in the Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester United and he simply gets Chelsea going when he plays. He is a real favourite under Lampard with good reason and can make the difference going forward.
Willian has been underrated so far this season in a Chelsea shirt and been a big part of Lampard’s early success as manager. He’s not quite getting the same plaudits as some of the promising youngsters, but is putting in a brilliant shift down the right flank with his work-rate and has looked confident on the ball.
Tammy Abraham (Centre-forward)
Abraham is one of the most in-form strikers in the world right now that has to maintain his spot in the Chelsea XI and he leads the line so effectively. Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to score the winner in the away match against Ajax and it’s a similar tactic that could work well at home.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (Left-winger)
—Replace Christian Pulisic—
Pulisic has four goals in two league appearances and has to start the next fixture against Palace, but naming him on the bench and giving Hudson-Odoi his opportunity from the start against Ajax could be a smart decision. Hudson-Odoi has gone a little quiet since his injury comeback, but has a special talent and it would be great to see what he can do on Tuesday night.