Kepa
Kepa

Kepa to start as Frank Lampard will ring the changes in a Champions League dead rubber between Chelsea and Krasnodar tonight.

The Blues are already guaranteed top spot in Group E, while the Russians are in line to finish third and drop into the Europa League.

That means the perfect chance for Lampard to rest some players and hand opportunities to others.

Kepa Arrizabalaga (pictured above) will deputise for first-choice keeper Edouard Mendy, looking to rebuild his reputation after enduring a tough period since his £71million move from Athletic Bilbao.

Lampard, 42, said: “Kepa starts. Like I said about the group as a whole, it’s about attitude and how we approach the game.

“Of course Kepa’s situation is slightly different, because the goalkeepers have to be patient when they’re not starting games.

“And generally with Edou’s form he’s been a very regular pick for me.

“But of course for this game it’s a chance for Kepa, who’s training brilliantly well and acting brilliantly well.

“These periods will happen in players’ careers. Sometimes they will make you stronger and better at the other end.

“So I’ve got no qualms about putting him back in.”

Billy Gilmour will make his first start of the campaign but Lampard is without Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Ziyech limped off against Leeds and the full extent of his injury is not yet known, while Hudson-Odoi will miss another chance to force himself into Lampard’s Premier League plans after picking up a knock in training.

Defenders Fikayo Tomori, Emerson Palmieri and Cesar Azpilicueta could also feature, along with Jorginho in midfield and Tammy Abraham in attack.

The Blues will be keen to carry on their good form and a victory over Krasnodar would give them 16 points — their highest ever total in the group stage.

Did you know?

Chelsea have a 100% record against Russian opposition in the Champions League, winning each of their five games by an aggregate score of 13-1.

Krasnodar picked up their first Champions League victory last time out, beating Rennes 1-0 thanks to a Marcus Berg goal. But the Russian side have won just one of their last nine away games in major European competition excluding qualifiers.

The hosts have only lost their final group game in just one of their previous 13 Champions League campaigns, winning six of the last seven.

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