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Predicted Chelsea XI to face AC Milan: Kepa starts despite Mendy return, Kante ruled out as Gallagher pushes for starting role

Matthew Debono

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Predicted Chelsea XI to face AC Milan: Kepa starts despite Mendy return, Kante ruled out as Gallagher pushes for starting role

Chelsea face AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge, and Graham Potter has plenty of selection decisions to make. 

After two games in Group E, Chelsea are winless and bottom. They need a win on Wednesday against the Rossoneri to give themselves any chance of progressing. Defeat will see them on the brink depending on the other game between Dinamo Zagreb and RB Salzburg.

Chelsea will have been given confidence after the weekend’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace. Potter’s side showed character to come from behind to seal victory in the 90th minute thanks to a stunning Conor Gallagher strike.

Chelsea manager Graham Potter during a training session at The Cobham Training Centre. (Alamy)
Chelsea manager Graham Potter during a training session at The Cobham Training Centre. (Alamy)

They now want to convert their league win into a European one. But the task is a lot bigger. AC Milan are the current Serie A champions and a win will put them in a commanding position heading into the back end of the group stages. 

Potter has decisions to make and they could be group-defining over whether Chelsea leave themselves with a positive chance of qualifying and getting out of Group E. 

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Predicted Chelsea XI to face AC Milan: Kepa, Fofana, Silva, Koulibaly, James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell, Gallagher, Sterling, Aubameyang

Edouard Mendy is back in training and in the squad for Wednesday night, but Kepa Arrizabalaga is set to keep his place in net.

“Eddie has trained with the team for the last few days so is making progress,” said Potter in his pre-match press conference. “So he will be in the squad which is great news for us because it’s important to have as much competition for places as we can. So it’s great to have him back.”

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy during a training session at The Cobham Training Centre. (Alamy)
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy during a training session at The Cobham Training Centre. (Alamy)

With the threat of AC Milan in attack, Potter may look to switch to a back three to protect Kepa and give themselves the best chance of not conceding. 

Wesley Fofana and Thiago Silva will be hoping to continue, while Kalidou Koulibaly will be eager for his first minutes under Graham Potter after showing patience and a good training attitude.

"I'm easy, I know my time will come, we have a lot of games," Koulibaly said in his pre-match press conference after not yet featuring under Potter.

Chelsea's Kalidou Koulibaly during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace. (Alamy)
Chelsea's Kalidou Koulibaly during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace. (Alamy)

"I will give everything in training. For the moment, I'm working good and give my best to show him that he can use me on the pitch.

"The most important is that Chelsea win this game tomorrow. We absolutely have to win tomorrow. We have prepared to win, I hope we can."

Jorginho will be assessed after abdominal pain, but if fit is a likely starter alongside Mateo Kovacic. Conor Gallagher will feel he deserves a start after his winning goal at the weekend. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted on his Premier League debut and another start is likely to be his reward on Wednesday night. 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Chelsea, Graham Potter, AC Milan, Champions League, Football

Matthew Debono
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