With a win and a defeat from their opening two Champions League Group G matches, Chelsea make the long trip to face Dynamo Kiev for an encounter which could go a long way towards deciding to qualifies for the knockout stages.
The current group table currently sees Chelsea third, a point behind their opponents who are joint top alongside FC Porto, who got the better of Jose Mourinho’s side on match day two. With two games against bottom club Maccabi Tel-Aviv coming up, Porto should be expected to all but secure their passage through in the coming weeks, meaning that if Chelsea lose this, they really will be playing catch up.
A draw, however, would not be a bad result and they certainly would have been delighted with a point from their game in Portugal two weeks ago. Indeed, they may well have got it had they been given what looked a clear penalty for handball in the dying stages. As it was, they were left to reflect on conceding two very avoidable goals and another defeat which reflected their hugely indifferent start to the season.
Overall, it was not a bad performance against a very strong Porto side, but in the second half in particular their defensive vulnerabilities were badly exposed, with goalkeeper Asmir Begovic largely responsible for keeping the score down. The Bosnian will be keen for a quieter evening here and does at least come into this having kept a clean sheet in the Premier League at the weekend.
Lying fifth from bottom going into the game against Aston Villa on Saturday, Chelsea got the morale-boosting win they needed despite not turning out a vintage display, but the return of Diego Costa from suspension certainly was a major contributing factor to their return to winning ways. He was on hand to score the first following a defensive error and he then had a major part to play in a highly fortuitous second which deflected in for an own goal.
But the win was the most important thing for Mourinho, who had done plenty of talking in the build-up amid receiving a vote of confidence and rumours of disharmony in the dressing room. He made a number of changes for Saturday’s game including starts for summer signing Baba Rahman at left-back and young midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, so he clearly is searching for the right combination in order for the side to return to its best. The manager is likely to make more changes here, but he will again be without Branislav Ivanovic.
Dynamo Kiev have probably their strongest squad for several years, so will not be overly surprised at their positive start to this campaign. A late equaliser earned them a point against Porto and they then won a hard-fought game in Tel-Aviv, while in the Ukrainian Premier League they are behind leaders Shakhtar Donetsk only on goal difference, with both sides having won nine of their 11 games so far. They do not possess a real out and out goalscorer, but the hosts will present a major threat from wide areas with Andriy Yarmolenko especially tough to contain when on form.