As the Blues’ dropped points for the first time in three games at the weekend, European qualification becomes the focus this coming Wednesday.
The evening kick off at the Bridge brings familiar territory for Jose Mourinho. Chelsea currently sit top of Group E, with Swiss nemesis Basel a point below and German side Schalke 04 a slot below them, with 7 points respectively. Mourinho has never missed out on the knockout round of the Champions League, and until last campaign, neither had Chelsea.
Chelsea are handed the easier game with the aim to top the group, with the Romanians yet to win a game in this years competition, having drawn three and lost two. With Basel and Schalke certain to take points off one another, Chelsea simply need a win to consolidate top spot.
But you and I both know things are not well at the Bridge. Juan Mata is back in the side, Fernando Torres is fit and Andre Schurrle has found form. So why has our usually reliable back four beginning to leak goals against second rate teams such as Stoke City and Sunderland, and we haven’t kept a clean sheet since West Ham away.
Petr Cech has kept 4 clean sheets in 15 games in the Premier League this season.
Many fans applauded Mourinho’s decision to start Cesar Azpilicueta ahead of Ashley Cole for the past few weeks, as his vigour and rate getting forward are rewarding. But with the team damns of the back for seemingly burst, is this the way Mourinho wants his team to set up, or is it a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?’. Gary Cahill has also been enjoying minutes ahead of David Luiz, who is seemingly still out injured, but is looking increasingly out of sorts.
I’d expect Lampard and Oscar to come back into the side. And which does Mourinho value more; Torres’ confidence or a happy Samuel Eto’o? Demba Ba is also in with a shout after coming into favour over the last two games amidst growing rumours Chelsea are to splash big cash on a striker this.
A double from Ramires saw Chelsea see of Steaua in Bucharest in October, and one expects Wednesday’s match to be a comfortable affair. But with a series of difficult Premier League games coming up over the busy winter period, it is more important than ever to work up a head of steam, utilise players and start keeping things tight at the back again