Oct 282014
 

After a pulsating 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday, Jose Mourinho and his player will have no time to ponder on the 92nd minute capitulation that saw Robin Van Persie salvage an unmerited one point for Manchester United as the team travel to New Meadows to face league 2 side Shrewsbury Town in the fifth round of the Capital one cup tonight.

As expected, Jose Mourinho will ring some changes to the team bearing in mind the level of opponent and the fact that the club have barely had a day of rest after the Old Trafford trip.

Quite a number of the players that played at Old Trafford will need to sit out this game to allow them time to recover. With some players suspended and the fear of picking up further injuries, Mourinho will look to give some of his fringe players who have played a bit part in the campaign chance to once again prove that they can be useful to the team.

Some academy and U-21 players could also be involved in this game, so we look at the likely changes Jose Mourinho could make to the team to face Shrewsbury.

In Goal:

Thibaut Courtois was magnificent in goal against Manchester United on Sunday pulling off several saves but could be dropped to the bench for Petr Cech who was in goal in the fourth round against Bolton Wanderers.

This is an easy decision for Jose to make as he’s keen to give adequate game time to the two world class keepers. So, Cech returns in goal after having a clean sheet in his last outing against NK Maribor in the Champion’s League a week ago.

In Defence

Branislav Ivanovic and Ceasar Azpilicueta will miss out due to suspensions leaving John Terry and Cahill as the senior regulars in defence. In the fourth round game against Bolton, Mourinho had partnered Cahill and Kurt Zouma and will look to continue with the pair in central defence. John Terry will be expected to miss this game as it will come too early for the 34-year-old after playing all 90minutes against Maribor and Manchester United within the space of five days.

Filipe Luis in the absence of Azpilicueta will get his first three consecutive starts in a Chelsea shirt at left back. Mourinho will however have a serious decision to make on who takes the right full back spot.

U-21 right back Todd Kane could get his chance at senior level tonight while centre back Andre Christensen could also play in the position.

In Midfield:

Mourinho will look to give majority of the regulars in midfield some time off and this could mean a number of starts for new faces. John Obi Mikel will take the place of Nemanja Matic in the DM position, while Fabregas could be rested for Nathan Ake who capped his introduction in the Maribor game with a wonderful assist for Hazard’s second goal.

Willian will start this one alongside Oscar behind the striker but Eden Hazard looks the man to be rested by Jose Mourinho. This will give Mohammed Salah a chance to stake a spot on either of the attacking flanks. Ramires is not fully recovered and there won’t be need rushing him back for this game.

In Attack:

Chelsea is currently having an injury crisis in the attacking department. Diego Costa and Loic Remy have missed the last two games due to injuries. In their absence Didier Drogba has put up a decent performance scoring two goals in the process but there is no denying that he is no longer the deadly finisher we used to know.

Against a youthful Shrewsbury side, Drogba could be given a rest. He played all 90minute against United and by his age it is yet to be seen how good he will be able to recover to play two games under 48hours.

There was suggestion Mourinho could play Andre Schurrle as a false striker against Manchester United but that did not come to be. I think it is in this game that Mourinho will look to explore his option of having Schurrle as his striker again after he tried the German in the same position at Old Trafford last season.

So, expect Andre Schurrle to play as a striker tonight against Srhewsbury while Drogba takes a place in the bench.

Chelsea’s Probable Line-up

  • Cech•Kane, Cahill, Zouma, Luis• Mikel, Ake• Salah, Oscar, Willian• Schurrle

Sub: Courtios, Terry, Christensen, Fabregas, Matic, Drogba.

 Posted by at 1:28 pm
Sep 292014
 

After a comfortable win at Aston Villa over the weekend in the league game, Chelsea travels to the Alvalade stadium in Lisbon to face Sporting CP. Chelsea and Sporting Lisbon will look to pick their first three points in the Champions League after a less-than impressive performance saw the two teams picking up just a point in a 1-1 draw in match day one of the Uefa champions league 2014/2015 season against Schalke 04 and Maribor respectively, hence, the more important it becomes for both manager to unleash the best of their arsenal come Tuesday night.

Sporting manager Marco Silva will fancy going with the side that drew one all with FC Porto in the Portuguese Liga ZON Sagres with Rui Patricio in goal and the quartet of Mauricio, Mahamadou-Naby Sarr, Jonathan Cristian Silva and Cedric Soares holding down their place in the back four. William Carvalho will continue as the team’s Central defensive midfielder alongside Joao Mario and Adrien Silva. Nani, Andre Carrilo and Islam Slimani will complete the attacking trio upfront though its likely Carrilo loses his place to Diego Chapel after his not-too-impressive showing against FC Porto at the weekend.

There could also be a place for Fredy Montero and Carlos Mane in the line-up especially if the manager decides to go all attacking in so as to get a result against a decent Chelsea side.

Mourinho on his part will be left with a hard decision to make as regarding his likely line-up bearing in mind the London derby against Arsenal on Sunday. Thibaut Courtois will likely keep his place in between the sticks in place of the experienced and trusted Petr Cech. More so, because he had a clean sheet against Aston Villa his second after returning from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid.

The back four of Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry(C), and Azpilicueta will keep their place except for Azpilicueta who will likely make way for Luiz at left back.

With Ramires continuing his recovery from injury, Fabregas will look to partner Nemanja Matic in the central midfield position with Willian, Oscar and Hazard taking their place behind the lone striker. I expect Hazard to start irrespective of the poor game he had at Villa Park though André Schürrle could take Willians position leaving the Brazilian on the bench while his compatriot-Oscar will clearly get the nod as he has been impressive in his last two starts against Bolton and Aston Villa.

Who takes up the lone striker role will depend on what gamble and risk Mourinho is willing to entertain. Chelsea new boy- Diego Costa will be favourite but with reports he cannot start three games in a week due his hamstring making the round, it’s unlikely. Loic Remy looks the best bet to take up his position as many Chelsea fan will not want to entertain the idea of club legend- Didier Drogba repeating his insipid performance against Schalke04 a fortnight ago.

It is still expected though, that Diego Costa overcomes his hoodoo hamstring and makes the line-up.

Probable Line-up:

For Sporting CP:

  • Rui Patricio, Mauricio, Mahamadou-Naby, Cristian, Cedric, Willian, Joao, Adrien, Nani, Carrilo, Slimani.

For Chelsea:

  • Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Luis, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Hazard, Schurrle, Costa.

What is your expected line-up?

 Posted by at 6:29 pm
Sep 272014
 

Today’s game against Aston Villa will be Chelsea’s 4000th league game as well as their 2000th home league game. Coming from a 2-1 win against Bolton in the carling cup, Chelsea will be looking to extend their lead at the top of Premier League standing today as they welcome the visit of Villa. The Villans are currently third on the league table, three points behind the blues and will be hoping to avoid the fight for survival that has characterized their last two campaigns.

Except Ramires who sustained a groin injury in a tough game against Manchester City at the Etihad and Diego Costa who is apparently lacking fitness, Mourinho has no worries about his squad. Oscar is expected to replace his compatriot in the midfield while Willian should get the nod ahead of Schurrle who, despite scoring against City, was again guilty of lack of defensive concentration that led to the equaliser.

Aston Villa’s squad was hit by an illness ahead of the Arsenal game, with Baker, Bent and Westwood all missing out and Weimann forced off at half time with the sickness. Those four players should be back available, though concerns remain over the fitness of Ron Vlaar, who is still suffering with a calf injury. Christian Benteke has trained all week but is continuing to build up his fitness and unlikely to feature for another week or so.

Should we win, Mourinho will claim second place all for himself on the all-time list of career Chelsea wins. He’s currently tied with Dave Sexton on 164. Jose will also mark a quarter millennium of games in charge of the Blues (7th all-time).

Possible line-up for Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahil, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Oscar, Willian, Hazard, Costa

Formation- 4 3 3

Possible line-up for Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Baker, Senderos, Cissokho, Delap, Richardson, Cleverly, Westwood, Weimann, Agbonlahor Formation – 4 51.

 Posted by at 10:23 am
Sep 232014
 

First, it is important to point out to all our fans that this article is a speculative one. But considering the number of years I have been following Chelsea, I believe I should be totally spot on once the official team list for tonight’s match is released. Enjoy.

After Sunday’s clash against the Champions ended in a hard fought draw, the Blues are back in action against Championship side Bolton Wanderers in a midweek league cup fixture.

With a Premier League game in the weekend, immediately following this 3rd round fixture, Mourinho will be looking to manage his squad as much as possible, with matches against heavy weights like Arsenal and Manchester United around the corner.

The tie against Bolton might see the Blues trot out fringe players, who up till now have yet to be given a chance in the team. Players like Filipe Luis, Nathan Ake, Kurt Zouma, Mohammed Salah, Petr Cech and Loic Remy are likely to see minutes on the pitch in mid week.

HEAD TO HEAD

April 13, 2010 – EPL

Chelsea 1- Bolton Wanderers 0

Dec 29, 2010 – EPL

Chelsea 1 – Bolton Wanderers 0

Jan 24 2011 – EPL

Bolton Wanderers 0 – Chelsea 4

Feb 25, 2012 – EPL

Chelsea 3 – Bolton Wanderers 0

A Chelsea win here is mostly important because were this competition not in existence, there would be no avenue through which the likes of Nathan Ake, Kurt Zouma and Petr Cech would get any meaningful time on the football pitch this season. Getting as many fringe players involved in as many games as possible is good for moral, plus it also ensures that they are fit and psychologically ready to compete when called upon in more important games.

Irrespective of who plays, the London side should be favorites and will be playing for the win.

LAST FIVE MATCHES 

CHELSEA FC

Sep 21, 2014- EPL

Manchester City 1 – Chelsea 1

Sep 17, 2014 – CL

Chelsea 1 – Schalke 1

Sep 13, 2014 – EPL

Chelsea 4 – Swansea 2

Aug 23, 2014 – EPL

Chelsea 2 – Leicester City 0

BOLTON WANDERERS

Sep 20, 2014 Championship

Wolves 1 – Bolton 0

Sep 16, 2014 Championship

BoltonWanderers 3 – Rotherham United 2

Sep 13, 2014 Championship

Bolton Wanderers 0 – Sheffield Wednesday 0

Aug 26, 2014 League Cup

Crewe Alexandria 2 – Bolton Wanderers 3

Aug 23, 2014 Championship

Brighton 2 – Bolton Wanderers 1

While the above results show that Chelsea remain unbeaten in all competitions, they also show how inconsistent Bolton’s form has been as they have lost 2, won 2 and drawn one of their last five. This is a sequence of results that have left the side in 21st on the Championship table.

It is also probably a good omen for Chelsea,  that they will play host to a team that is yet to win away from home this season, in what is sure to be a continuation of such an unfortunate stat.

POSSIBLE LINE UPS

CHELSEA – Cech, Ake, Luis, Zouma, Ivanovic, Mikel, Ramires, Salah, Remy, Schurrle, Drogba

BOLTON-  Lonergan, Ream, Mills,Moxey, Dervite, Lee Chong yong, Garvan, Spearing, Feeney, Mason, Davies

Jose Mourinho’s team will be hoping to wrap the tie up as quickly as possible, to avoid the embarrassment of having to bring in actual first team players, if they end up struggling against a side that even Championship sides don’t struggle against.

 Posted by at 12:13 pm
Sep 202014
 

In the much anticipated clash of potential champions this Sunday, fans will be watching to see who wins what is essentially a heavy weight battle. Another attraction with fans is usually the individual battles between star players of the opposing teams.

In this article, we will highlight these key battles to further give the fans a clue of what they should expect;

  1. HAZARD VS ZABALETA

In a battle that is always interesting to keep an eye on, the Argentine has done surprising well against the tricky winger in past meetings. The assumption was that the right back would be vulnerable to Hazard’s lightening speed and quick feet. However, Zabaleta’s excellent defensive positioning has been crucial in keeping the 23 year old at bay in the match ups between he two players so far.

Whoever wins this confrontation, will go a long way in enhancing his team’s chances in this tie. Zabaleta will have to close down the Belgian as soon as he gets the ball and always has to ensure that he shows the former Lille man down the outside, towards the corner flag, in other to stop him from cutting in and taking shots at Joe Hart’s goal.

  1. RAMIRES VS SILVA

The slippery Spaniard David Silva is known for gliding around the center of the pitch, while holding to the ball as long as he needs to, in other to deliver the telling final ball to his team’s strikers. The Brazilian is perfect for the job as he possesses the stamina and work rate needed to properly track the Spanish international.

  1. MATIC VS. YAYA TOURE

The Ivorian Toure, has been sub par in the first couple of matches this season. The Chelsea and Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic will be hoping that he doesn’t play at his best on Sunday.

The ex Barcelona man on his day, can be the biggest power house in football and Chelsea will need to use Matic in a role just in front of the defense, which ensures that when Toure breaks through from his double pivot position, the only man that can match his strength on the pitch is available to deal with the damage.

  1. COSTA VS. KOMPANY

Manchester City’s captain Vincent Kompany will lead his team against the Blues on Sunday. He however has to be careful, as he is coming up against the most in form striker in the league. Although the Belgian’s reading of the game is exceptional, he is more likely to be dribbled past by a slightly skillful player.

Also prevalent in his style is the compulsion to cover up for his fellow defenders, which usually leaves him open to uncomfortable situations. The Man. City captain has to make sure he is a 100 percent focused on Diego Costa and not on how well his defensive partners are faring.

  1. NASRI VS. IVANOVIC

Ivanovic has two goals and one assist this season, showing how much of an attacking force he can be, when given the license to roam. He should however be wary of the Manchester city left winger Sami Nasri, who will seize any gap left by the Serbian and won’t hesitate to expose John Terry’s lack of pace. It will be interesting to see how the Chelsea Right back can balance his attacking and defensive duties tomorrow.

It is clear that individual confrontations will be a key factor in deciding which team carries the day. Whatever the outcome, we are in for an intriguing match.

 Posted by at 6:36 pm
Sep 122014
 

With the new season only three games old, Swansea are in a comfortable second place position and a win against top of the table Chelsea, will see them leap frog Saturday’s opponents to first place on the Premier League table.

After winning all three games played, the latest being the comfortable 3-0 win against West Bromwich Albion, Swansea will feel like they have a chance against an in form Chelsea side. After all, the Welsh team is enjoying their best winning run in the Premier League.

Chelsea on the other hand will want to proceed with caution after their heart stopping 6 – 3 thriller against Everton. Letting in that many goals in one game is something unusual for Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. They will also not take much comfort from the fact that if any team outside the usual top 4 finishers in the league was going to replicate such a score line, Swansea was likely to be that team.

The blues will also be aware that with star striker Diego Costa unlikely to start due to an injury picked up during the international break, goals might be in short supply.

Match Statistics

  • Swansea has not beaten Chelsea in the League since both sides were in the old Division 2 in 1981.
  • Chelsea has kept a clean sheet in each of their last four games against Swansea.
  • Cesc Fabregas and Gylfi Sigurdsson meanwhile are joint top of the assist chart, each with four assists.

IN 3 PREVIOUS MEETINGS

  • Swansea 0 Chelsea 1(Ba) Premier League April 2014
  • Chelsea 1(Hazard)  Swansea 0  Premier League December2013
  • Chelsea 2(Oscar, Lampard) Swansea 0 Premier League 2013

POSSIBLE LINE UPS

              CHELSEA

(GK) Courtios, (FB) Ivanovic, (FB) Azpilicueta, (CB) Terry, (CB) Cahill, (DMF) Matic, (CM) Fabregas, (LAM) Hazard, (RAM) Schurrie, (CAM) Oscar, (ST) Drogba.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

SWANSEA

(Gk)Fabianski , (FB) Rangel, (FB) Taylor, (CB) Williams, (CB) Amat, (CM) Shelvey, (CM) Ki Sung-Yueng,(LAM) Dyer, (RAM) Routledge, (CAM) Sigurdsson, (ST) Bony.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

 Posted by at 11:03 am
Aug 232014
 

On Saturday we play our second match of the season against a similar opponent to Burnley, similar because they too just came from the Championship, however ’the Foxes’ didn’t take that into account in their  first game of the season, when they managed to share a point with Everton via a Chris woods equalizer at the King Power Stadium. Leicester won the Championship last season and on their first outing in the Premier League this season they look to have gotten the hang of things in the top flight since it’s been a while they have been here. Leicester became the 5th team to break 100 points last season in the process of winning the Championship, and the previous four that have done that ahead of them stayed in the League in their first season.

So here’s a quick peep at Leicester City before the big game, just to remind ourselves who we are facing since it’s been over ten years we faced them in the League.

The last time we faced Leicester City, Claudio Ranieri was in charge of things at Stamford Bridge and the Premier League title then was a power struggle between Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger at that time was winning the battle, Arsenal had started an unbelievable run at the time and the squad would go on to be named “the invincibles” after 49 games unbeaten. How things have changed upon the Foxes return, Arsenal just ended their trophy drought while Man.Utd weren’t even in the top 4, Man.City are a major force now and we, Chelsea, are on our second Mourinho spell.

However all that shouldn’t concern the new comers, they arrive in the league as the most confident side from the Championship this season and have even more reason to be after sharing a point with last season’s 5th placed Everton, making them believe they could go all the way to stay above the relegation zone this season, but it’s too early to say.

Manager, Nigel Pearson, like Mourinho, is in his second spell at Leicester, in his first, he took the side to the League One title and Championship play-offs, leaving for Hull City in 2010 stating that the club seemed reluctant to keep him. In November 2011, the club’s new chairman, Thai business man, Vichai Raksriaksorn, persuaded Pearson to come back to an 11th position Leicester, and what a story three years later, winning the Championship and back in the Premier League.

Leicester Stats

102, the total number of points they acquired to finish last season as winners of the Championship, their highest points acquisition ever.

14, the amount of penalties the Foxes won last season. No team in the top four tiers of English football received more.

31, the number of consecutive games from November to May in which Leicester scored, it is the best run in the Championship.

Notable Players

Mathew Upson is used to the Premier League, he even went to a World Cup with England back in 2010 and was a starter for that matter, brought on a free transfer to the side; he provides the Premier League experience they need at the back, which is vital if they want to remain here.

In the middle of the park, the Foxes have Danny Drinkwater. Formerly a trainee at Man.Utd the 24 year old was a key player for Leicester City last season, going on to be named their player of the season. He provided the stability in the midfield, averaging more oases per game than any other player in the Championship.

On the wings, Leicester has Knockaert and Mahrez, and would now be joined by former Aston Villa player, Marc Albrighton, providing them with more pace on the flanks. While in attack, Chris Woods and David Nuggent are forwards that have been in the Premier League before, and know the performances required of a striker in keeping a team above the relegation zone, however, it is Argentine striker, Leonardo Ullnoa, whom much is expected from after the club spent a record £8m to acquire from Brighton and Hove Albion F.C, scoring on his debut against Everton in the top flight was not a bad introduction.

All the best to Leicester this season, but we as Chelsea fans hope this is a walk in the park, 3 points at Stamford Bridge and more than a single goal would be nice from Mourinho and his boys.

 Posted by at 11:20 am
Aug 232014
 

Chelsea takes on Championship winners Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Saturday hoping to reinforce the prediction that they will win the league. The Blues earned many plaudits for their display on Monday night against new boys Burnley, coming from behind to dismantle the clarets with goals from Diego Costa, Andre Schurrle and Branislav Ivanovic. They will hope to maintain their place at the top in their first Premier League meeting with Leicester in a decade.

Jose Mourinho has a fully fit squad at his disposal. Courtouis is expected to maintain his place as Chelsea’s number one with Cech’s days at Chelsea looking numbered. Dider Drogba is back to full fitness following his pre-season injury. The line-up is expected to be similar to Burnley however there is one question mark regarding the line-up. Now that Ramires is available for selection following his suspension will Mourinho bring him back in the side? In pre-season Chelsea flirted with a 4-3-3 playing Matic, Fabregas and Ramires so it should be interesting to see if that comes to fruition. Felipe Luis could be in contention to make his debut replacing either Azpilecuta or Ivanovic.

If Chelsea gets in there groove against Leicester it will be intriguing to see how many they score. It could be a comfortable 2-0 or a resounding 5-0. We saw against Burnley they opted to take their foot off the gas in the second half rather than go for an emphatic victory. It will be nice to see Chelsea attempt to thump Leicester rather than seeing out the game when the win is secured, if they indeed do try to bury the opposition it could signal a change in times. Mourinho is wary of the opposition however as he knows the threat newly promoted sides promote. Speaking in his pre-game press on Friday he said the following “If you play at the top of your game, like we did for periods at Burnley, we have a good chance to win. It’s difficult playing newly-promoted teams, they know every point is important.” Another interesting point is if Leicester setup extremely defensive how will Mourinho’s men react. Chelsea’s biggest problem in the League last season was playing teams who put ten men behind the ball. With Fabregas and Costa now in the side they should be able to counter that more efficiently.

Chelsea predicted line-up vs Leicester City: Courtois; Azpilecuta, Terry, Cahill, Felipe Luis; Matic, Fabregas, Ramires, Schurrle, Costa, Hazard

Referee: Lee Mason

Kick Off: 3pm

Last three meetings:  Chelsea 5 Leicester 2, Chelsea 4 Leicester 3 Chelsea 4 Leicester 0

Prediction: Chelsea 3 Leicster 0

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Aug 192014
 

1. Chelsea has the look of champions

Chelsea produced the best performance on the opening weekend of the season and look like they will take some stopping. They always say coming back from behind signifies the mark of champions and never was that better executed than at Turf Moore. It took Chelsea a minor three minutes to find an equalizer. When going 1-0 down they found themselves in situation which ultimately cost them the league last season, away to the likes of Crystal Palace & Aston Villa Chelsea found it hard to respond. But here the blues displayed cold ruthlessness as they put they sword to Burnley and killed the game after 34 minutes.

2. Cecs Fabregas could prove to be the signing of the summer

Cesc Fabregas had the look of a man who had been playing at Chelsea for years as he effortlessly slotted in next to Nemanja Matic in the centre of the park. The ex Barca man was rightfully named man of the match in a performance which saw him involved in all three goals. His sumptuous back heel to Branislav Ivanovic led to Costa’s goal. He then proved influential in the build-up play for the second goal and he sprayed passes left and right, dictating the tempo of the game before providing a marvellous assist for Andre Schurrle. The Spaniard then put the ball on a plate for Ivanovic as his alluring corner evaded the Burnly defence. With Fabregas in the side Chelsea look a more complete and balanced unit. With two assists already to his name, Fabregas could well make a difference in the race for the title.

3. Diego Costa is the real deal

If all doubts about Diego Costa hadn’t already been broken they were smashed on Monday night. It took the 25 year old a mere 17 minutes to register his first competitive goal with the blues. In comparison to Chelsea’s two main strikers last season, it took Samuel Eto’o 5 games and Fernando Torres 14 respectively. Costa ferociously leathered home a failed clearance from Burnley with pure venom. The ex Atletico man should have also won a penalty but was wrongfully carded for simulation. The suspicion that Diego Costa could fall under the category of Chelsea’s flop strikers doesn’t look like taking shape as it emerges Chelsea have finally found a replacement for Dider Drogba.

4. Chelsea will be a joy to watch this season

Chelsea was very easy eye at Turf Moore. There football in the first half specifically was expeditious, slick and elegant as they toyed with Burnley. Mourinho’s men played with a flair and gracefulness not associated with this Chelsea side. They often criticized last season for their style of play but it appears and evolution is occurring this season. The football was expansive and clean and seems the way Chelsea will play this season. Post match Mourinho stated “we believe this is the way to play this season with the players we have”

5. Mourinho’s pragmatism is still alive

Chelsea went in to the break 3-1 up and in cruise control. When the teams emerged for the second half it seemed a question of how many for Chelsea? However what we got in the second half from Chelsea was a much more concealed and reserved performance. They bossed possession attempting playing a more disinclined game rather than looking to completely kill Burnley. In an interview with Sky Sports Mourinho said “At half-time I told the players 4-1 kills the game but 3-2 makes it dangerous.” It could have been a prolific victory but instead Mourinho opted to keep the ball and soak up pressure.

 Posted by at 9:04 am
Aug 182014
 

On Monday night newly promoted Burnley welcome Premier League favourites Chelsea to Turf Moore. This game is covered in speculation regarding Chelsea’s line-up as no one knows what team Mourinho will decide field.  In terms of availability of players reports suggest Didier Drogba should have recovered from his injury in time to make the bench. While Ramires is still serving his suspension from the end of last season, apart from that Mourinho has a fully fit squad to choose from.

The first question which arises is the formation. Last season Mourinho adopted a 4-2-3-1, while using the 4-3-3 every now and then but this pre-season he has flirted with both. The arrival of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona has seen Chelsea line up  with Ramires, Matic and Fabregas in midfield as seen in there last pre-season game against Real Sociedad. However with Ramires suspended it’s almost certain Chelsea will line up in the conventional 4-2-3-1.

The next question is player selection; this is plagued with question marks. The biggest mystery is obviously in relation to who will start in goal for the blues. In his press conference on Friday Jose Mourinho said “They will know at the same time. All I can say, with all my respect, I think Chelsea have two of three best goalkeepers in the world. This is something unique. It is a problem, a great problem. I think it is one every manager in every club would like to have.” Rumours suggest Courtouis will get the nod. As it looks increasingly likely Petr Cech’s time as Chelsea’s number one is coming to an end.

In defence Terry & Cahill are definite starters in the centre of defence. This leaves Filipe Luis, Ivanovic and Azpilecuta battling it out for two spots. Many believe Luis and Azpilecuta will be Chelsea’s first choice full backs this season but Ivanovic appears to still be in Mourinho’s plan judging on pre-season. I’d expect Ivanovic at RB and Azpilecuta at LB replicating last season’s back four. Luis has not hit the ground running and hasn’t had a great pre-season. It appears he is still adapting, Mourinho will go with the tried and tested.

Matic and Fabregas in the midfield is another certainty with Ramires being suspended, Mikel not being 100% and Van Ginkel not making his mark. Matic and Fabregas have complimented each other extremely well in pre-season and seem to have a great understanding, this looks like Chelsea’s first choice midfield for the season.

The three behind the striker is another conundrum. Willian, Oscar & Schurrle have only been back a couple of weeks and are not fully fit. Hazard as well seems off the pace, which could mean a rare start for Mohammed Salah who had the summer off. Mourinho has stated that his team in the opening few weeks will not be his strongest eleven as players attempt to get up to speed. I expect it will be Hazard, Salah and Oscar to start. But Schurrle & Willian could easily start this is up in the air as Salah is the only one fully fit.

Diego Costa up front is self-explanatory with the ex Atletico Madrid man slotting in perfectly since his £32 million transfer.

 

                   Courtouis

Ivanovic Terry Cahill Azpilecuta

                    Matic Fabregas

Salah              Oscar          Hazard

                        Costa

 Posted by at 1:10 pm