Tonight we look to turn around a 2-1 deficit at home to Inter Milan, with a place in the quarter finals of the Champions League being at stake. The match, our fourth home game in a row, kicks off at 7.45 and will be televised.
Hopefully we get off to a better start then three weeks ago, in which Milito fired the Nerazurri into a third minute lead, the stats were on our side but the score told a different story, as for all the pressure we exerted couldn’t find a second away goal. Kalou was denied a stonewall penalty near the end of the first half but in the second half his curling long ranger found it’s way into the corner of the net thus giving us a vital away goal. The scores stayed level for just four minutes, before Ivanovic’s clearance fell to Cambiasso who found the back of the net with his own long shot. For all our efforts, the truth is a lot were from outside the box and most never looked to trouble the keeper, the best of the lot being Drogba’s free kick that came back off the bar, and Ballacks long ranger that Cesar could only parry.
Since the last encounter we’ve let slip at home to Man City, beaten Stoke in the F.A Cup and most recently destroyed West Ham 4-1, after a lacklustre first half. Florent Malouda was the man all the plaudits warmed to on Saturday, putting in a series of decent crosses and taking his goal well too, hopefully he will turn in a similar display later.
Ancelotti has announced that Petr Cech and Hilario are still out, whether he is being as truthful as Mourinho in Barca ’05 remains to be seen, although such deceit is unlikely. This leaves Ross Turnbull in goal, and should are keeper crisis deepen during the match, Rhys Taylor may find himself between the sticks.
Carvalho is back, giving Ancelotti a centre back selection headache, having the Portugeezer, Terry, Alex and Ivanovic to choose from. At a guess Ivanovic will fill in the right back slot and Zhirkov will replace the ineligible Ferriera at left back, with Malouda being allowed to play his preferred midfield role he was partly deprived of in the first leg.
In midfield Mikel has often been preferred to start in the holding midfield role, with Lampard sure to start in the middle of the diamond, whether it’s alongside Malouda or Ballack is the bigger question, perhaps Carlo start them both, with Ballack at the top of the diamond. Or perhaps Ballack will play at the bottom and Mikel will be rested, but with Joey Cole seemingly out of favour this option doesn’t seem likely.
The attack writes itself, Drogba and Anelka. Drogba grabbed another two goals on the weekend and the Ivorian will be fired up for a clash against one of his biggest admirers. Sturridge and Kalou are sure to be waiting in the wings.
Inter’s league form has also been patchy, they have recently let slip in the league, with their lead at the top reduced to just one point. A 3-1 loss away to Catania was their latest slip up, drawing 0-0 with Genoa at the start of March and ending February with a 3-2 away win against Udinese. Inter are reportedly without Balotteli, Motta and Arnautovic.
Mourinho decided to decline the offer of being able to train on the Stamford Bridge turf, reportedly to stop anyone spying on him, something he used to allegedly do whilst in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.
There’ll be mixed feelings at Stamford Bridge this evening, Jose was the man who delivered us our first league titles in half a century and was loved by the Chelsea faithful, he has been surprisingly quiet in the build up to the match, possibly out of respect for his former club, a more likely reason then out of any respect for the man in the opposite dugout. His only real words ahead of it were pointing out that he doesn’t lose at Stamford Bridge, his only defeat being at home to Barcelona in the Champions League in the 05/06 season. Hopefully, his next defeat at Stamford Bridge will also come in the Champions League.
Predicted team: Turnbull, Zhirkov, Terry, Carvalho, Ivanovic, Mikel, Malouda, Lampard, Ballack, Drogba, Anelka.
Predicted score: A Jose special, 1-0 to Chelsea – Carvalho with the goal.