Chelsea will be looking to book their place in the last-16 of the Europa League when Malmo arrive at Stamford Bridge for the decisive second leg tomorrow night.
Maurizio Sarri is under increasing pressure after Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester United following a 2-0 defeat in West London on Monday evening.
The players look increasingly disillusioned under the Italian coach following a string of disappointing displays and it’s safe to say Sarri will be staring down the barrel if Chelsea don’t get past Malmo on Thursday.
The Blues came away with a 2-1 victory from the first leg in Malmo last week but they’ll be expected to see-off the Swedish outfit with far more ease on home soil to book their place in the next phase of the Europa League.
The race for the top four in the Premier League is extremely tight as just one point separates Man Utd from sixth placed Chelsea, so the Europa League is arguably their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
Chelsea have no fresh injury worries to contend with but it will be interesting to see if Sarri decides to rotate his starting eleven ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final with Manchester City.
The Blues only have a narrow lead from the first leg but it’s difficult to see Malmo turning things around at the Bridge so Sarri may opt to give the likes of Eden Hazard, Kepa Arrizabalaga, David Luiz, Jorginho and Gonzalo Higuain a rest.
Willy Caballero, Andreas Christensen, Emerson Palmeiri, Ross Barkley, Willian and Olivier Giroud are all pushing for recalls to the side and could start against Malmo on Thursday.
Chelsea are understandably the heavy 2/7 odds-on favourites to win the game and are a huge 1/500 to qualify for the last-16 of the Europa League. The Blues are struggling for consistent form and are under pressure to bounce back from the defeat to United but I don’t think they’ll have any trouble beating Malmo at Stamford Bridge.
Our predicted score is 3-0 to Chelsea which is available at odds of 6/1 and we also feel Giroud to open the scoring at 7/2 looks a tempting bet – especially if Sarri does rotate and rest Higuain. If we combine those two bets and back Giroud to score first in a 3-0 Chelsea win then we get very tempting odds of 29/1.