Who: Chelsea vs Ajax
When: Tuesday, November 5th @ 3:00pm ET
Line: Chelsea -112 | Draw +285 | Ajax+285
Chelsea pulled off a stunning European heist in their last UEFA Champions League encounter, snapping Ajax’s undefeated streak at their own yard. In a game majorly dominated by the Dutch side, Frank Lampard’s boys rode the storm before coming up with a late winner thanks to Christian Pulisic’s brilliance to go atop of their group.
Now staying in that position is going to be a gigantic task in itself. Ajax are pissed. You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry. When they’re vying for a statement, even the best of sides can’t contain them (just ask Real Madrid or Juventus). After being embarrassed, the Dutch youngsters are eyeing revenge.
Well, it’s time for Lampard to prove his tactical wits again by rejuvenating his youngsters to stand their ground. The Blues need the Stamford Bridge faithful as their 12th man to win & retain their spot as group toppers. But facing the wrath of an in-form Ajax side, coming out on top is a daunting task.
Chelsea Likely XI
Kepa, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso, Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Pulisic.
Lampard confirmed that N’Golo Kante might be back for Ajax, but I highly doubt he’ll start. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen & Ross Barkley remain unavailable for the tie. Expect a similar lineup to what defeated Ajax.
Ajax Likely XI
Onana, Dest, Veltmann, Blind, Tagliafico, Alvarez, Martinez, Van De Beek, Ziyech, Tadic, Promes
Just because they lost one game doesn’t mean Erik ten Hag will make a plethora of changes in the reverse-fixture. I think he’ll go with the same team, just with a few tactical tweaks.
Chelsea vs Ajax Match Preview
Chelsea are on a roll on the road, having won their last consecutive away games in all competitions. However, the same joy hasn’t come at Stamford Bridge. What was once an impenetrable fortress isn’t that formidable anymore. In eight home games in all competitions, they’ve only won thrice all season long.
Manchester United sent them packing in the Carabao Cup encounter. Even a struggling Valencia side ousted them earlier in this competition. There isn’t any reason Ajax can’t repeat the same fate.
Lampard must be itching to improve his form at home and this game could be crucial towards restoring their dominance at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have thrived under the pressure of hostile environments but struggled under the home fans support. It’s time the tables are turned.
Pulisic should be starting after netting another goal in the Premier League against Watford. He’s finding his rhythm and considering how he turned Sergino Dest inside out the other day, he’ll look go haunt Ajax again with his stunning trickery & decisiveness in attack.
Tammy Abraham had a stinker in Holland but will look to keep up his promising league form. He’s turned into a clinical finisher inside the area, having the unpredictability to unsettle sides. Callum Hudson Odoi, Mason Mount both contain plenty of tricks in them, also having that creative spark needed to break down any defence.
But it’s their defence which must retain their rock-solid attitude it displayed at the Johan Cruyff Arena. Kurt Zouma & Fikayo Tomori gave their best performance as a duo, thwarting everything Ajax threw at them. It’s time for them to repeat that in order to keep the visitors quiet from running riot.
However, it’s rather evident that containing them is a goliath task. Ajax are hungry to avenge themselves. Since the defeat, they crushed their competition in the Eredivisie with back-to-back dominant wins scoring 4 goals in each game!
Ten Hag’s started tweaking his side, trying new things to thwart any predictability, meaning Ajax will arrive at Stamford Bridge with a different style. Dusan Tadic has played there before with Southampton, but should look to use his deft trickery & finishing skills to keep the fans quiet.
Hakim Ziyech is somebody many Premier League clubs desired in the summer and will look to prove why, as his soothing skill, unpredictable movement, as well as commendable final product, makes him a firecracker going forward.
Donny Van De Beek & Quincy Promes are both x-factors. Like cats on the prowl, they both have that surprise element in quietly moving into goal-scoring positions and unsettling defensive lines. With Dest & Nicolas Tagliafico also charging through the wings, things could get difficult for the Blues.
But this would be a show of character for Chelsea. Lampard proved his side can tussle with the best the other day, but a loss could render that as a fluke. If the Blues truly want to win this group, they must conjure up their best selves, defend strongly and hit Ajax hard going forward to take one step into the knockout rounds.
While Chelsea & Ajax both have that surprise element to come up with commendable results, I think this will be a 1-1 draw. Chalk it up to knowing The Blues’ topsy-turvy home form.