All eyes will be on West London on Wednesday night as Chelsea host Zagreb in the final match of Group E. They already have qualification for the Last 16 sewn up which gives Graham Potter the green light to make a string of changes..
The Blues lost the away leg on Matchday 1, going down 1-0 to an early goal from Mislav Orsic, in a defeat which spelled the end for previous boss Thomas Tuchel.
Below you can find our stats pack for Wednesday night’s game at Stamford Bridge, with everything you could possibly want in terms of data on goals, cards, corners, shots, shots on target and xG from the teams’ campaigns thus far. Pick and mix what you like from our research and head to the Stats Pack Guide to build those bets ahead of kick-off.
Matchday 6 of a UEFA Champions League Group stage can be a bit of a minefield, it’s fair to say.
With Chelsea already assured of top-spot in Group E, plus a host of injuries to manage, and also the not-so-small matter of the visit of Premier League leaders Arsenal to the Bridge on Sunday lunchtime, we expected Potter to shuffle his pack.
There’s a first opportunity for midfielder Denis Zakaria to show what he can do. Edouard Mendy is returns between the posts and with the aim of restoring himself as No1.
Plenty of calls from Chelsea fans to switch to a back-four, and it seems like Potter has listened with what looks like a 4-3-3.
The visitors did rest a host of big names on Saturday so expect a rested Orsic, Bruno Petkovic and Arijan Ademi, among others, to feature from the start.
They’ll likely use a three-at-the-back system and try to pack the middle of the park with dangermen Orsic and Petkovic left to roam upfront.
Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi might have handed Zagreb coach Ante Cacic an interesting blueprint for how to hurt Chelsea as he revealed they set out to isolate defenders Trevor Chalobah and Marc Cucurella in Saturday’s 4-1 thumping at the Amex. It will be interesting to see if the Croatians were paying attention.
Let’s make no mistake, Chelsea are going to want to use this match in order to rotate their squad, improve some fitness and sharpness, but also blow away the cobwebs from Saturday’s defeat at Brighton, with half an eye on Sunday’s huge clash with Arsenal.
It’s been 11 years since a Chelsea manager went five unbeaten in the Champions League (it was Robert Di Matteo, for those playing along at the back!) but that’s something Potter can achieve on Wednesday after just five matches in charge, and it’s something I fully expect them to do too.
Chelsea’s stats are not particularly persuasive, but it’s been a very stop-start campaign, given the change of manager in the middle of a group stage which began disastrously.
I expect Chelsea to exceed their averages tonight against a Zagreb side that concede a glut of opportunities per 90 themselves.
Here we can see just how many shots Zagreb concede. In a far inferior league to the Premier League, they’re conceded 17.40 shots per 90 and 5.20 shots on target.
Despite this they’ve managed to score more than their opponents and that is exactly what happened last time these two met.
Zagreb were eventual 1-0 winners thanks to an Orsic strike (doesn’t he just love scoring against London teams) but Chelsea dominated the stats. 15 shots to 6, 4 corners to 1 and 69% possession.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Perhaps surprising that Armando Broja doesn’t start, so instead look at Havertz, Aubameyang and Sterling for shots as they appear to start in a front 3.
Player Goals and Assists
In an ordinary match, given the amount of negative press aimed at Raheem Sterling this week I’d back him to fire… once people start to shine a light on how a big money move hasn’t worked out it seems almost inevitable that the footballing Gods make the writer look silly at the earliest opportunity.
In terms of Zagreb it’s tough to look further than Petkovic and Orsic – the latter in particular has caused Chelsea, and their London rivals Tottenham, countless problems in the past 12 months and, as unlikely as it might be, if the visitors are to grab a goal, you’d expect Orsic to be the one to get it.
They do tend to create chances, mustering 2.27 xG per 90 minutes and scoring at an even better rate, averaging 2.71 per match, however those games were not all played away against a Chelsea side with a point to prove. As always, the visitors are likely to be largely restricted to counter-attack and set-piece opportunities.
Connor Gallagher and Mason Mount are one caution away from a European suspension. Kai Havertz is another who is no stranger to having his name taken but once again, I’d be surprised to see him involved unless it’s for a run-out in the final half-hour.
Another worthy of consideration would likely be Zakaria, on his first start, and with the pressure that brings, or Jorginho, who has plenty of experience but who will likely be joining the Swiss midfielder in a two-on-three battle in central midfield and might end up needing to clean up after any mistakes the debutant might make.
Match-ups to watch
Denis Zakaria vs Arijan Ademi
Jorginho vs Luka Ivanusec
Kai Havertz vs Ivan Ljubicic
Dinamo Zagreb Cards
While the referee Mr Kovacs averages a hefty 5.47 cards brandished per match, the Croatians are not exactly a card-happy side, averaging a hair over one per match, and Chelsea only average 1.25 cards issued against them per 90 too.
Lauritsen has found himself in the book more commonly than any of his teammates during his time on the pitch but is not expected to start. The one for me to keep an eye on is Ljubicic who has Havertz and Zakaria to deal with.
Only Jorginho starts in the ranks of this graphic, and I’d expect him to be hard to handle for Ivanusec.
Match-ups to watch:
Ivan Ljubicic vs Kai Havertz
Luka Ivanusec vs Jorginho
Stefan Ristovski vs Raheem Sterling
That’s all for this stats pack so if you’re now heading over to place your bet builder, I’ll just remind you to keep the stakes sensible and to make use of this Betfair sign up offer – get your full stake up to £20 refunded if your first bet loses.