The final match in the Champions League group stages will be played out tonight at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea host Valencia in a match with little meaning for the blues who’ve already qualified as group leaders. Valencia however, bottom of the group, still have a UEFA Cup place to aim for.
The 2-1 win in Valencia was one of the first matches under Avram Grant, the battling victory reminiscent of many under Mourinho. With the importance of victory here no longer relevant in terms of the group table, it will be interesting to see how Grant sets out his team in terms of personnel and also style of play. Will we go for it, or conserve energy for the weekend?
With the Premiership match against Arsenal on the horizon, key players will be rested tonight to save them for the top of the table tussle. Petr Cech could still return after a lay off with a thigh injury, and Michael Essien could also play as he is still serving a suspension in Premiership. Andriy Shevchenko, Steve Sidwell, Tal Ben Haim and Wayne Bridge are all likely starters against the Spanish side.
As Didier Drogba is now recovering from an operation on his troublesome knee, the responsibility for converting chances falls to the £30million Ukrainian. Shevchenko stepped up to the plate against Sunderland last weekend, but will need to start showing he is capable against the bigger teams. With strikers being linked to Chelsea left right and centre, these next few weeks could be the making or breaking of Andrei Shevchenko.
Rumoured transfer target; David Villa, when asked about the stories surrounding him and Chelsea spoke ahead of the game and said; “Any player would be interested in coming to the Premier League. It is not going to make any difference to me about Tuesday’s match just because people on radio or TV are saying you might sign for a better club.” He added; “We can say as much as we like about how we are going to turn things around at Valencia but where we have got to prove it is on the field with our performances. All we can do is put the coach’s plans into action and provide our best.”
Many inside Stamford Bridge tonight will be hoping that Valencia’s plans don’t come to fruition, especially if it speeds up the transfer of someone regarded as one of the worlds best strikers to SW6.
Chelsea (from): Cudicini, Cech, Belletti, Ben Haim, Essien, Terry, A Cole, Obi, Bridge, Alex, Makelele, Sidwell, Wright-Phillips, Lampard, Kalou, Shevchenko, Pizarro, J Cole, Sawyer, Worley, Hilario.