Despite the West Ham game next Saturday being an absolutely must win game my mind is very much tuned in to the Champions League tie against Inter the following Tuesday. What with the return of Jose’, our run of bad luck at crucial moments in the competition and the desire of finally being able to call ourselves the best team in Europe, I have done little but play the game over in my in the last few days. My conclusion is that there are ten factors that will decide our fate on the night.

  1. A decent ref. Goes without saying really but never to be taken for granted, especially in Europe it seems. Coming to think of it I wouldn’t mind a biased one – as long as his bias is for us. The law of averages would suggest we are due some luck from the man in the middle at long bloody last.
  2. Hilario to play well. A decent performance from a goalkeeper means two things really. He has to make sure that he doesn’t give away any stupid goals and come up with some decent saves in crucial moments. All I can say is fingers crossed when Hilario is in goal.
  3. Score first. If Inter score first we will then need three goals to go through. Inter have conceded three in a game only twice all season and ironically won both games, 5 – 3 against Palermo and 4 – 3 against Siena.
  4. Overcome the Jose’ factor. Make no mistake about it, it’s going to be a media circus as soon as the weekend games are out of the way and Jose’ is going to milk it to the last drop. I hope our lads don’t get sucked into it as they did with the handshake saga against Man City.
  5. Jon Obi Mikel to have the game of his life. Now in his fourth season Mikel has yet to convince me he is the man for a job. But in Essien’s absence he is a definite starter next Tuesday and we need him to come up with the goods. With our system so dependent on the full backs getting forward Mikel has to stay tuned in for all of the 90 minutes, something he hasn’t always done. And we need him not to give away any needless freekicks on the edge of our box.
  6. The crowd has to get behind the team. Once we have given Jose’ his deserved ovation it’s up to us fans who will be there on the night to get behind the lads – non bloody stop. No moaning when a pass goes astray, no lulls to catch our breath. Just raw, opposition battering support throughout the game, of the type we gave against Barca five years ago.
  7. JT to be at his best. No use beating around the bush and pretending otherwise, since the tabloid debacle JT has had a few dodgy moments, much more than usual by his normal stellar standards. Against Stoke we saw what an in form JT can do for the team at both ends of the pitch. More of the same on Tuesday skipper.
  8. Joe Cole HAS to play. With Yuri Zhirkov unlikely to be fit, it’s probably Malouda at left back which will leave a vacant place out wide on the left. Come on Carlo, be brave. Coley hasn’t become a bad player overnight and given the chance he could be the one to undo the Inter defence on the night.
  9. Keep Wesley Sneijder quiet. Sneijder has been Inter’s driving force this season. Most of their play goes through him and he, together with Lucio and Milito, are Inter’s new spine. Lamps and Ballack have to be snapping at his heels from the word go. Cut Sneijder out and the job is half done.
  10. Drogba to turn it on. We have loved him and hated him over the last six seasons, sometimes in equal measure but more often than not he has turned it on on the big European nights. It’s worth pointing out that the Drog has now scored more goals for Chelsea than the great Peter Osgood himself, 107 to Ossie’s 105. And in 44 less games. If DD has one of his “Arsenal” nights he’ll see us through on his own.