Gary Cahill has a back problem and is doubtful to start tomorrow’s crunch tie against fellow early-season strugglers Aston Villa.

A fortnight has passed since Chelsea last saw some action – plenty of time for Jose Mourinho et al to lick their wounds after a poor defeat to Southampton at the Bridge. The reaction to said defeat? The supposedly dreaded public vote of confidence. Mourinho is absolutely the man to carry us forward, said the report. As these public notices tend to show, one more slip up and Mourinho is absolutely the man to head out the exit door should he not deliver the goods against Tim Sherwood’s Villains, one may imagine.

Thibaut Courtois remains a medium-term absentee, however Branislav Ivanovic is confirmed to miss tomorrow’s game, which throws up some interesting possibilities with regards to team selection. There is substantial social media gathering behind the idea of Kurt Zouma starting in the Serbian’s place, which would be an intriguing battle between the stocky Frenchman and the pacy widemen of Scott Sinclair and/or Jack Grealish. A more logical change would be Azpilicueta moving to his natural right side and Abdul Baba Rahman played on his natural left, however a mentioned yet much more left-field option would see Ramires drop back into the back four to fill in for Ivanovic. While I can’t see the former or latter happening, if anyone isn’t afraid of changing things when they need it, it is Mourinho so it is worth keeping an eye on the teamsheet around 2pm.

Mourinho has also said that Ruben Loftus-Cheek is “definitely ready to start” tomorrow, dropping a huge hint that the youngster may be in line for only his second league start after impressing – and scoring – in England Under 21’s win during the break against Kazakhstan. This may see him line up alongside Nemanja Matic with Fabregas occupying the no.10 role, or indeed himself behind the striker in front of our usual midfield anchoring, as he was for Gareth Southgate’s men.

There are very cheeky suggestions that is a relegation 6-pointer, and while Twitter roars with laughter at the idea, we can probably afford a gallows-esque wry smile in comparison. Even though frankly this poor run of form has shown little sign of ending, one would assume that the team we thumped 8-0 just the other season who are in just as bad form now as they were then are incapable of pulling a shock out of the bag. That said, noboddy saw Southampton winning. Or Crystal Palace. Or Swansea taking a point. You get my point. Come 5:30pm tomorrow, we will have a much clearer picture of where this Chelsea will be capable of going after a rocky start. We may also have one manager being handed their p45.

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