Tomorrow we travel to the venue that saw us wrap up the Premiership title four years ago, hoping to stay top in top spot ahead of next Sunday’s home match to United, and also aim to avoid our third successive away league defeat.
Our midweek match saw a somewhat weakened side win 4-0 over Bolton, with goals from Kalou, Malouda, Deco and Drogba. We have now scored 13 goals in our last three matches (Albeit all at home) and hopefully we can continue this run of convincing high scoring matches.
Ancelotti is likely to make a string of changes from Wednesday, as always the biggest speculation is who will play in the midfield. Mikel isn’t 100% fit, so Essien is expected to start in the holding role, Lampard and Ballack did a great job last weekend in the middle of the diamond, as did Joey Cole at the top of it.
Bolton’s home league record could be better, having lost to Sunderland on the opening day, they have lost one more since then, drawn two, and only registered their first win last weekend against Everton. Eleven of their league goals have come from our achilles heel, set pieces.
Goalkeeper Jaaskelainen and joint third highest goalscorer Kevin Davies are expected to return from injury in the Bolton squad. Much like Blackburn, the Totters has had swine flu in their camp.
Last seasons match at the Reebok saw a 2-0 win, Anelka scored against his old club and Deco scored a class goal. The previous two seasons saw 1-0 victories up there, in 07/08 courtesy of Kalou, and in 06/07 from Ballack. Our last six visits to the Reebok have all ended in victory, without conceding a single goal.
The referee is Peter Walton, who officiated last seasons 4-3 with Bolton at Stamford Bridge, a match which saw no bookings or sendings off. Stoke City at home was our only other match he took control of, handing out three yellow cards.
In the 07/08 season he officiated three of our matches, twice sending off one of our players, and once a member of the opposition. In March, Walton sent Lampard off away to West Ham for pushing Boa Morte, a joke decision that he later admitted he had made a mistake with and was rescinded, the 36th minute sending off may have made a difference, had we not have already been 3-0 up. He also sent Mikel off that same season at home to Everton in the League Cup. And earlier in the season he sent off Liam Miller when we played Sunderland at The Bridge, for pathetically pushing Pizarro’s face after a dodgy challenge on Terry (When we all sung ‘Just like your Manager’ as he was walking off).
Cech, A. Cole, Terry, Carvalho, Ivanovic, Essien, Lampard, Ballack, J. Cole, Drogba, Anelka
2-0 to Chelsea