Chelsea host Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday night in desperate hope of relief from their miserable start to the Premier League season.
After another loss on Saturday, a disappointing 3-1 loss at Everton, the pressure may just be mounting on Jose Mourinho, some 4 and a half months after he guided us to our first League title in five years. So, the perfect time to be facing the groups supposed whipping boys? Perhaps not.
There are several similarities to this period and in 2007 when Mourinho was sacking following a poor 1-1 draw to Rosenborg of Norway. Otherwise brilliant spells in charge up to now? Check. A poor start to the current campaign? Check. A turn-up against the group minnows? Well, let’s hope not.
A win would do Chelsea the world of good, having only beat West Brom so far this season, and with an already vital game in the context of the title race against Arsenal coming up on Saturday, one would assume anything other than a win against the Israelis would deal us a massive psychological blow.
The good news for Chelsea is that, Thibaut Courtois aside, there are no confirmed absentees. Mourinho might be tempted into changing his side, with Oscar in line for a recall and a start for Abdul Baba Rahman on the cards. Branislav Ivanovic, after a particularly rocky start to the campaign, may be dropped to make way for the Ghanaian. Papy Djilobodji may feature following his move from Nantes.
While we’ve never faced Maccabi Tel Aviv, fans will need no reminder that we have faced cross-city rivals Hapoel, losing 2-0 in Israel, and then drawing 1-1 at the Bridge and thus eliminating us from the 2001/02 UEFA Cup. In the second leg, Slavisa Jokanovic was on the bench for the Blues – he will be in the opposing dugout on Tuesday, as Maccabi’s manager.
‘Crisis’ is a word being bandied around by journalists and fans alike after a terrible start to our title defence, and while Mourinho has talked about a much stronger bond with chairman Roman Abramovich this time around, one can’t help but wonder if this is the start of a bigger week for Mourinho than he is letting on. A poor result here, coupled with one against Arsenal and that word might actually be a accurate description. A win here and one against Arsenal however, and maybe – just maybe – our season might be back on track. 11 points is a big gap, but bey, who doesn’t enjoy being the underdog every now and again?