Among 8 Champions League group games on Wednesday is this intriguing Group H game between English Premier League mainstay Chalsea and Lille from France’s Ligue 1. Both teams enter this fixture off a loss in the group opener. Chelsea lost a 1-0 decision to Valencia at Stamford Bridge while Lille was thumped 3-0 by Ajax in Amsterdam. Fortunately for both teams, the group remains wide open with Ajax the only side scoring more than a single goal in their first fixture.
Chelsea will be extremely anxious to get this one back as they missed an opportunity to earn at least a draw against Valencia when Ross Barkley’s late penalty try went wide. Overall, however, they’ve started to round into form in Frank Lampard’s first season at the helm. They’re off of the two best showings of Lampard’s short tenure at Stamford Bridge beating Grimsby Town 7-1 in league cup play and following that up with a solid 2-0 verdict over Brighton in Premiership action. They’re in good shape to improve their standing in the Premier League this weekend facing lower card Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium. Chelsea is currently part of a four team pack between 6th and 9th with 11 points sitting in 7th.
Lille is in decent shape in Ligue 1 play in fourth place with 14 points. As of yet, perinneal power Paris Saint-Germain has been unable to open any type of margin over the rest of the field. PSG is in first place with 18 points but that puts them only two up on Angers SCO and Nantes and 4 up on Lille. Lille’s biggest issue has been their play on the road where they’ve gone 0-2-2 in league play scoring just 2 and conceding 5. This is in marked contrast to their showing at Stade Pierre-Mauroy where they’ve gone 4-0-0 in Ligue 1 play scoring 9 and conceding only 2.
Chelsea’s primary issue this year has been defense though they might have turned the corner there. The backliners look significantly more capable over the past month and even in their two losses–to Valencia and Liverpool–the defense kept the team in the game against superior opposition. Chelsea’s offense has been solid–their 14 goals gives them a tie for the third most in the Premiership behind only Liverpool and Manchester City.
Chelsea’s play away from Stamford Bridge is still a ‘work in progress’ under Lampard. They’ve allowed at least two in every road game under his watch but the offense has been very effective as noted above. They’ve scored 3+ in their last two away games. Lille has scored 2+ in 7 of their last 8 at Stade Pierre-Mauroy. Lille is a very strong home side but they’re taking a big step up in class facing an upper level English Premier League team. Chelsea has won 5 of their last 7 away in all competitions and won every road game in Europa League competition a year ago.