PMB: Malmo v Chelsea - matchday

The final part of the Pre-Match Briefing gets you ready for today's game..

• While Malmo are at the start of their season, Maurizio Sarri must rotate his squad through three hugely important matches in seven days. The Italian was dealt a blow at a crucial moment in the season with the news that Kept Arrizabalaga will nurse a hamstring injury to increase his chances of being fit for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final. Willy Caballero is likely to start his second Europa League match this season – he kept goal in the 2-2 draw at Vidi.

• Illnesses could rule out other squad members, though at least Ruben Loftus-Cheek trained yesterday, having been troubled by a back problem recently. Sarri may look to the England midfielder’s physicality and endeavour, as well as his skill on the ball against the oldest team (averaging just under 30) left in the competition.

• In the first leg the coach made five changes from the previous weekend, with Andreas Christensen and Emerson coming into defence and goalscorer Olivier Giroud leading the line. The Blues had the ball for three-quarters of the game and managed four on-target shots. The wide forwards stayed on the flanks and Willian in particular found space when the ball was moved quickly.


• ‘We made a good game against a really good team,’ Uwe Rosler commented after last Thursday’s defeat. Malmo played with aggression, good organisation and a generally effective offside trap, though individual errors often gifted the Londoners possession. They also committed 20 fouls in the first leg, more than any other opponent this season.

• Without the ball, di Blae defended as a back five with another four in front, but in possession they committed bodies forward and pressurised the Blues’ backline, especially at the start of each half. This left gaps on the flanks that the home side’s wide players will need to exploit.

• With impressive discipline, and despite substitutions, Malmo looked happy to defend deep and limit the damage to 2-0 until a simple ‘out’ ball caught the Blues. Before you could say, ‘Saga Noren, Lanskrim Malmo’, they had a precious goal. The visitors need at least two more to stand any chance of progress this evening, but are likely to employ the same frustrate-and-counter approach.


Maurizio Sarri's pre-match quotes

‘We are trying to talk with the players, avoiding some mistakes by [watching] videos.

‘I have to think we are able to improve, and able to improve immediately. The result is not everything. In the last match we played better, especially in the first half. But we have to solve a big problem because we stayed in the other half for 75 minutes out of 90, and we were not able to score. They played only 15 or 16 balls into our box and they scored two goals.

‘We have to solve this problem. It is probably a problem of aggression, determination in both boxes.’

City boss Uwe Rosler's pre-match quotes

‘At a club like Chelsea the pressure is always on. It's all about results. He [Sarri] has to live with the pressure, like we all do. In general I wish he comes through this difficult period and will continue.

The goal made the game really interesting for us. I know we need to score, but we can. So, see what happens.’

Squad news

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Doubt (illness)
Davide Zappacosta






Man in the Middle

Referee: Orel Grinfeld

Thirty-seven-year-old Grinfeld, his assistants and additional assistants are all from Israel. His only previous game involving a Chelsea side was a UEFA Youth League quarter-final against Ajax at Cobham in 2016.


Matchday weather outlook

An unseasonably warm evening for February awaits.


- Follow the game in our Match Centre

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