PAOK Thessaloniki vs Chelsea: Blues to maintain winning start
PAOK Thessaloniki vs Chelsea Match Preview and Predictions
Chelsea have made a perfect start to the Premier League under Maurizio Sarri and now turn their attention to the Europa League.
[All odds correct at time of publication]
The Blues have won five out of five under their new manager and are odds-on favourites to return from Greece with three points from their Group L opener.
PAOK Thessaloniki have also started their domestic season with three successive victories.
When is it? Thursday 20th September
What time is kick-off? 17:55
Where is it being played? Toumba Stadium
Which channel is it on? BT Sport 2
PAOK Thessaloniki vs Chelsea Betting Tips
Chelsea won the Premier League title in 2016/17 thanks in part to the lack of European distractions.
They struggled to cope with the demands of the Champions League last season as they dropped out of the top four in the Premier League and were knocked out by Barcelona in the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition.
Now Sarri must cope with regular Thursday night fixtures as part of the schedule and he is not expected to place much importance on the Europa League.
Europa League Betting Tips
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That will mean plenty of squad rotation but they should have enough strength in depth to qualify from a group which also contains Videoton and BATE Borisov.
With the fringe members of Sarri's squad keen to impress, we're going for an away win at 9/10 as the first of our PAOK Thessaloniki vs Chelsea predictions.
Their hosts had high hopes of reaching the Champions League group stage after getting past Basel and Spartak Moscow and then earning a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their play-off against Benfica.
They were then beaten 4-1 at home though and both teams have scored in their three home games in Europe this season so back both teams to score again at odds of 4/5.
First goalscorer tips
Alvaro Morata was dropped in favour of Olivier Giroud against Cardiff at the weekend and faces a fight for his place this season after just one goal so far.
The Spanish striker could lead the line in Greece though and is fancied to open the scoring at 9/2.
Anytime goalscorer tips
Ross Barkley impressed during the first two games of the season and although he has since made way for Mateo Kovacic in the starting line-up, he has looked sharp when coming off the bench.
A more attacking role under Sarri should suit the former Everton youngster and he can make an impact with a goal at 9/2.
Where the game will be won or lost
Sarri has played down talk that Chelsea can challenge for the Premier League title due to problems at the back.
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock suggested the Blues will struggle defensively against top-drawer opponents and Sarri replied: "I think he is right. Because we are very dangerous in the defensive phase, we need to improve there. But I think we can do it.
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"Eight players joined us this summer. So I think it's normal that in this period we have some defensive problems. We can cope with the problems with the quality in the offensive phase, but not in the defensive phase. So I have to organise better the defensive phase and the players have to understand that."
With that in mind, we're including a Blues win and both teams to score at 29/10 as the last of our PAOK Thessaloniki vs Chelsea betting tips.
Playmaker Eden Hazard and defender David Luiz have been rested for Chelsea. Midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who has a minor injury, and Emerson Palmieri also have not travelled in the 21-man squad.
It remains to be seen if defender Gary Cahill will make his first appearance of the season or if midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek will make his first start of the campaign.
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