Friday, December 04, 2009

Chelsea preview

Back to league action as we host leaders - and concensus Champions elect - Chelsea, who constrastly to ourselves come into the game on the back of a Carling Cup defeat.

Whilst our victory gave a much needed boost following recent struggles, I doubt whether Chelsea's defeat at the hands of Blackburn derails their league form any, and they have been the impressive side in the league so far during 2009/10.

Hesitancy and nervousness has been a feature in our run of draws, leading to plenty of leads being lost but there were more positive signs on Wednesday as we continued to press and attack even after taking the lead. Not to denigrate our defence, but the key for a victory tomorrow is in our attacking play.

At times on Wednesday we were at our best. Quick and concise, we were able to create a number of opportunities which (unlike recent games) we managed to convert. Chelsea are no slouches in defence but pace is one asset that can truly trouble teams - and we have that abundance going forward.

None moreso than in Shaun Wright-Phillips who returned to form on Wednesday in what was arguably his best game since returning to the club. It will be interesting to see what changes (if any) Hughes opts for. It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine de Jong or Kompany being drafted in to bolster the midfield. Whilst Ireland may be the likely casualty, it is possible that Tevez could be the player to make way with Wright-Phillips (if fit) pushed further forward. Robinho could see a return to the side given doubts over Craig Bellamy.

Norfstander makes an interesting suggestion regarding the need for Roque Santa Cruz to get some minutes behind him ahead of what will be a busy January, but this is not the game for that and I'd agree that the latter part of December looks more likely.

Chelsea's form at both Maine Road and Eastlands is an impressive one, with the 1-0 win (via Nicolas Anelka's penalty) a few seasons back our only victory. More worrying is the number of clean sheets they have kept against us; 12 in the last 14 games.

They have slipped up on the road this season - defeats at Villa, Wigan and of course Blackburn but history does not bode well. It will be a dificult task to take anything from tomorrow's game, and whilst we have talked so much this season about a changing mentality in our approach to games. We have taken steps in the right direction in this regard but to take three points is probably a leap too far.

At best a point then, but even that would represent something of a surprise.

vote it up!

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