The other clubs in the Premiership are hoping that Chelsea will be seriously affected in January when the African Nations Cup is being staged, but if you look at the facts it would seem to be wishful thinking.
Yes Drogba and Essien can make a big difference to a game, but Mikel and Kalou are fringe players at best, so will not be missed to any degree.
But we have to remember that Drogba has already missed quite a few games for Chelsea this season. The first three Champions League matches gave him a rest, thanks to his suspension, and Chelsea didn’t manage to lose any of those.
Nicolas Anelka is more than capable of winning games on his own, Sturridge, Kakuta and Borini will be chomping at the bit to be given a chance to show what they can do, and everyone seems to forget that Franco Di Santo will also be returned to the fold after a successful loan period at Blackburn.
Essien is a great player, and Mikel could be considered an able replacement if he wasn’t due to be absent too, but Ancelotti has so many classy midfielders, including Ballack, Lampard, Deco, the newly recovered Joe Cole and the up-and-coming Nemanja Matic, who is expected to get another run out in the Carling Cup tonight..
On the left where Kalou would normally play, they have Florent Malouda and the finally-fit Yuri Zhirkov, who are more than reasonable replacements.
Then you have to look at the opponents Chelsea will come up against in January. They kick off with an away game at Hull, who are hardly setting the Premiership alight this season, followed by a potential banana skin at home to Sunderland, but although the North-East’s most improved side this season, their away form has been atrocious to date.
Then another home game against Birmingham is hardly going to give the Chelsea fans palpitations, and the final test is another away game at Burnley, who Chelsea destroyed when they visited them earlier this season.
Salomon Kalou himself expressed his doubts that Chelsea would be weakened in January when he said: “I think Chelsea will be even better because there are players who don’t play a lot at the moment, who will have the opportunity to play in January.
“I’m sure they’re going to give 200 percent to show the manager they should have a place on the team.”
He added: “Even when Didier leaves, you still have Nicolas Anelka who can always score goals, you still have Joe Cole who is back and on good form.
“You still have Deco, Michael Ballack. I could go on. I think Chelsea will be all right and I have no worries about the team.
“The form the players are in now, it is easy for the manager to turn it round, put any player on the team and still have them performing well.
So, as much as the other teams may wish to see Chelsea slip-up, the odds on them losing ANY of the games during the African Nations Cup are slim indeed.
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