First and foremost if you didn’t know already, this game kicks off at 5.15, not the standard 3.00 commonly (well, fairly often…regularly…ok, sometimes) seen on a Saturday afternoon. I only found out after booking my train tickets to get me to Paddington for 11am.
So while I’ll be awkwardly hanging around in the city killing time for a good six hours or so, I can at least look forward to an evening visit to the Bridge from Blackburn Rovers and ex-Chelsea star Mark Hughes, currently at the helm of the Lancashire outfit and quickly turning said outfit into a side to contend with. After our defeat at Villa almost a fortnight ago, lets hope they turn up as punching bags rather than heavyweights, and we can get back to winning ways swiftly.
We go into this game looking to avenge our first loss of the season but must do so with question marks hanging over the heads of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, who are carrying thigh and knee ailments respectively. Ricardo Carvalho returns to the squad at least but Wayne Bridge remains on the sidelines with a long-term injury. Interestingly, the resource I use for injury news contains no mention of any problems with Andriy Shevchenko-who scored in Ukraine’s game in mid-week-nor Michael Ballack, infamously excluded from our Champions League squad through injury despite other sources claiming he is fully fit.
Blackburn have doubts over some players returning from international games after seeing 11 squad members jet off to represent their countries but have no major problems to trouble the physio. Rovers have had a decent start to the season and sit in 7th place-just above Manchester United by goal difference. An unbeaten run has seen them rise up the table and the form of their strikers has been a big reason for the club’s steady start.
Last season’s star signing Benni McCarthy has been joined by a forward who is already one of this season’s great buys, Roque Santa Cruz-a former team-mate of our very own Claudio Pizarro. Santa Cruz has already hit three goals so far and has been a real coup for Blackburn. Along with England boo-boy David Bentley, Morten Gamst Pedersen, and the free-scoring McCarthy, Blackburn can be a real threat going forward and could cause us a few problems on Saturday.
Still, lets try and look on the bright side! We will be looking to get back to winning ways-particularly with the Champions League starting up again in mid-week and a visit to Old Trafford looming-so a few players may have points to prove out there on the Stamford Bridge pitch. We have to show what we are made of whoever takes the field, and with the Return to the Shed campaign gathering more and more pace we can also do our bit in the stands. Lets give them our vociferous support and see what we get back by the final whistle. We’ll do our thing, you do yours lads. Come on Chels!
Prediction: Blackburn will be their typical rugged and robust selves so it won’t be a stroll in the park by any measure. Expect a hard-fought battle, ugly in parts (particularly if Robbie Savage makes and appearance) but with a happy ending-for us at least! A 2-1 win is what I’m going for, see you all at 5.15.