Graham Potter, however, started his tenure with a similarly poor outcome in round two (1-1 vs Salzburg). The Potter era was launched by a last-second league victory over Crystal Palace last weekend, but with Chelsea having failed to advance from just one of their previous 18 UCL groups, a victory here feels essential.
This stuttering Blues side have been the image of inconsistency this season, with every match they’ve played producing differing results (W4, D2, L3), although just six defeats across Chelsea’s last 32 UCL fixtures suggests that improvement could be just around the corner (W19, D7, L6). Perhaps playing at Stamford Bridge will provide a further boost, as the two-time UCL winners have won without reply in six of their last eight competition matches here (D1, L1).
The Italian champions AC Milan remained in touch with the Serie A leaders Napoli going into this critical match in London thanks to a solid 3-1 victory over Empoli over the weekend. It may be challenging for Milan to continue their unblemished start in UCL play (W1, D1), but manager Stefano Pioli was quick to point out the positives, saying: “It’s a chance for everyone to show that we’re a strong squad.”
The Rossoneri have already matched their points haul from last season’s UCL group when finishing bottom, and a repeat of that appears unlikely this time around given their record of qualifying from 12 of the last 13 group stages. In order to keep the good times rolling, Milan must end a run of three straight defeats to Premier League opponents, which includes home and away defeats to Liverpool in last season’s group stage.
Chelsea have failed to win nine of their last 11 encounters with Italian opponents at any venue (D3, L6).