Which players strengthened their claim to start against West Ham with a good performance in the Europa League?

Chelsea’s game away at PAOK in the Europa League offered Maurizio Sarri the opportunity to rotate his team.

Eden Hazard and David Luiz were given the night off so other players were given a chance to impress.

And after winning 1-0 in a game where the opposition rarely threatened, Sarri will be happy with the teams overall performance.

But lets take a look at the performance of some of the fringe players in the squad and see if they took their opportunity to shine:

Davide Zappacosta

Against opposition who lacked attacking cohesion, Zappacosta was rarely troubled.

(Photo credit SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images)

His pace helped him recover if he did make a mistake, but he looked confident throughout.

With Chelsea having 68% possession, the Italian was mostly used in PAOK territory – where Sarri likes his full-backs to do their best work.

And although he didn’t do anything necessarily wrong, Zappacosta will have to go some way to displace Cesar Azpilicueta.

Andreas Christensen

Another who was rarely tested, Christensen had a fairly comfortable evening.

The Dane looked comfortable on the ball and dealt with any danger PAOK produced.

(Photo by Sebastian Widmann – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Although he barely stretched his legs, many are backing Christensen to be the long-term centre-back partner of Antonio Rudiger.

But Sarri will probably restrain from giving Christensen his first Premier League start at West Ham on Sunday.

Ross Barkley

Barkley has been right on the edge of the first-team for the start of the season.

(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

He started Chelsea’s opening game, but since then, he has had to settle for a spot on the bench.

But given his opportunity to start in Thessaloniki, Barkley played very well.

He looked very comfortable on the ball – providing the assist for Willian’s winner – and didn’t stop running all night.

With Mateo Kovacic a doubt for Sunday’s game, Barkley will likely fill in for the Croat.


Although he’s featured in every Premier League game for Chelsea so far, Willian has struggled for form.

(Photo by Sebastian Widmann – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

But the Brazilian was handed the captain’s armband last night and seized the opportunity.

He was the best player on the pitch and was rewarded with a goal.

Willian has been vying for a place with Pedro in the league, and the Spaniard has prevailed so far having made an excellent start to the season.

But with Pedro limping off with a shoulder injury on Thursday night, Willian could start in his place against West Ham.

Alvaro Morata

And the struggles continue for Morata.

(Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

Despite seemingly working his butt off against PAOK, he just couldn’t seem to hit the back of the net.

And Morata cut a forlorn figure when he was replaced by Olivier Giroud.

Sarri has reiterated his faith in Morata, but the Spaniard could be set for a prolonged spell on the bench.