Chelsea’s Hazard ruled out of BATE clash with back injury
Team’s best performer this season may also struggle to make Burnley game on Sunday
Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images
Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard will miss Thursday’s Europa League tie against Belarusian side BATE Borisov with a back injury and faces a race to be fit for Sunday’s Premier League game against Burnley, manager Maurizio Sarri said.
The Belgium international has been Chelsea’s best performer with seven goals in nine Premier League appearances for the club so far this season.
“[Eden] is out,” Sarri told a news conference on Wednesday. “He’s got a back problem. We’re trying to solve the problem for Sunday.”
The Italian, whose team are third in the Premier League and top their Europa League group L with two wins in two games, also said he would rest midfielder Jorginho, who has started all nine of Chelsea’s league games so far.
“We have to play after five days from the last match,” Sarri said. “The problem will be on Sunday as we have to play after 65 hours. We have to change something. Jorginho needs to rest now.”
BATE Borisov plan to use lessons learned from last season’s 6-0 defeat by Arsenal and Videoton’s performance against Chelsea when they visit Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening. While Sarri’s team are pursuing a third victory from three in the Europa League group, his BATE counterpart, Alyaksey Baha, takes encouragement from his belief that Videoton were unfortunate when they lost 1-0 at the same venue earlier this month. Hazard’s absence offers further cause for confidence, and though they could again face Olivier Giroud – who scored twice against them last season for Arsenal – the experience of their last visit to London means they feel better prepared.
“We have followed all the games Chelsea have played,” said Baha. “Videoton played well, had plenty of chances and could have got a different result. They are an example for us. “We analyse the games [against Arsenal] so we learned from our mistakes. Now, a year later we are here in England, in London, playing against a top club, and we hope for a better result this time.
“It is kind of good news that Hazard is not playing, but it will still be a very strong line-up. Chelsea is the kind of team with so many players that will be capable of replacing Hazard with no problem.”
Chelsea’s last match was an acrimonious 2-2 draw with Manchester United that ended in a melee after Sarri’s assistant coach, Marco Ianni, exuberantly celebrated a late equaliser in front of the opposition bench.
Sarri and Ianni both apologised to Mourinho after the incident and the Italian said he wanted to give his assistant a chance to redeem himself.
“As I said after the match, we were wrong,” Sarri added. “I was there when Marco spoke to Mr Mourinho and he said sorry immediately. He realised he was wrong.
“I want to give him another opportunity. He was really sorry and he realised the mistake.”