Chelsea XI vs Leicester: Hazard rested, Higuain start + Six changes made in Strong likely lineup

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With Chelsea in Europa League action on Thursday night, we won’t get a proper pre-match press conference from Maurizio Sarri ahead of Gameweek 38.

We can, therefore, only go on the comments he made in his post-match interviews following the penalty shootout victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Andreas Christensen (unknown) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (cramp) are fresh fitness doubts after being withdrawn in that semi-final victory at Stamford Bridge, although Sarri said that the latter’s injury “was not a serious problem”.

The Blues’ head coach added that it would “not be easy to recover” for Sunday’s game, although said the problem would be more mental than physical.

Nevertheless, the players that lasted all 120 minutes against Frankfurt may be handed a breather, with nothing riding on the match at the King Power Stadium and Sarri stressing the need “to rest”.

Mateo Kovacic, Emerson Palmieri and Jorginho could be dropped to the bench after their two-hour run-outs, while even Eden Hazard could potentially be preserved for that Europa League final after playing 210 minutes over the last week.

Pedro, Gonzalo Higuain, Marcos Alonso and Ross Barkley will all be expected to start after their benchings on Thursday, while Davide Zappacosta could feature if Christensen fails to recover – Cesar Azpilicueta moving across to centre-half to deputise for the Dane, as happened against Frankfurt.

Gary Cahill is another option at centre-back, of course, but he was overlooked even when Christensen limped off.

N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Antonio Rudiger (knee) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) remain out, while there is still much uncertainty over Ethan Ampadu’s (back) availability.


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