With the international break done and dusted, we welcome back the Premier League this weekend; and there is plenty to be getting on with. Chelsea travel to West Ham in the late kick-off on Saturday, with Jose Mourinho sweating over a few injuries to key players.
Ashley Cole is the main casualty from the round of international fixtures, with the England left-back aggravating a pre-existing rib problem that kept him side-lined for the Blues in recent weeks. The latest reports say that it will keep him out of the upcoming London derby.
The Blues will be looking for a better result in this away game than the previous against Newcastle; a match that ended with a limp 2-0 defeat for Mourinho’s men. With West Ham’s poor recent record and difficulties in scoring goals this is a relatively easy game for the Blues, and they’re betting favourites according to SportsBettingDime.com to bounce back and put three points on the board to maintain their league title challenge.
Defence: Cole’s injury woes means Cesar Azpilicueta is most likely to continue at left back with Branislav Ivanovic reprising his role on the right. Cahill and Terry seem to be the stable centre back pairing for Jose Mourinho, with David Luiz continuing to cut an isolated figure on the bench.
Midfield: Having so many viable candidates for the attacking midfield spots has been both a blessing and a curse for Mourinho in recent weeks, but there a handful are thriving on the increased competition at the Bridge.
The Brazilian Willian has performed very well in the last few games, and is set to keep his spot in the attacking trio behind the frontman, with the in-favour Eden Hazard likely to retain the other wing. With joint top-scorer, Oscar a shoe-in for the number 10 role; the remaining bunch will have to settle for a spot on the bench. Mikel could push Ramires close for a starting berth.
Forward: With doubts over his fitness, Fernando Torres is another who is unlikely to feature, at least from the start this weekend. Samuel Eto’o, who is on a hot streak of sorts, is in line to keep his place in the Chelsea starting XI.
Prediction: 1-2, Chelsea have struggled in recent weeks, but will be fired up for this fixture, as they look to keep the pressure up on the leading pack. Expect a tight encounter, with much riding on the ability of the Chelsea attackers linking up well.
What do you think of the line-up? Let us know in the comments below…