Chelsea face a make or break clash in their Champions League group, with Dynamo Kiev heading to the Bridge. After taking a point in the last meeting between the two sides, the Blues are third behind Kiev in the table. They need a win here to make the last 16, but the Ukrainian side will come here confident that they can pick up a point.
Jose Mourinho showed how good he is at grinding out results in that game in Kiev, while his side put on a strong defensive display. They came close to taking the win on a few occasions, but the 0-0 draw left them sitting outside of the top two at the half way stage. An improvement is needed, and the Blues realistically need to win their last three matches to top this group. Can they kick that off with a win, or will their hopes be in tatters after yet another poor result?
The team don’t really have the same fear factor as they did at this stage last year. They were blowing teams away then, now they can barely create a chance unless Willian is taking a set piece. It’s clear that Mourinho will have to take a new approach for this game, but can he inspire his side to victory?
The manager likely knows how Champions League results in 2012 cost Roberto Di Matteo his job. The club were struggling to make the top two, so Roman Abramovich moved to sack a boss who was loved by the fans after winning the European Cup just six months earlier. It seems nothing can save a manager from the sack if they can’t get the team past the first hurdle in Europe.
The good news for Jose is that his team should be close to full strength in this game, with Branislav Ivanovic set for a return. The only absentee will be long term doubt Thibaut Courtois, who should be back in December. Both Pedro and Diego Costa picked up injuries, but neither seem to be a major doubt for the Kiev game.
Expect Mourinho to go a little more attacking with his selection this week, after fielding a defensively minded team in Ukraine. There are enough options up front that Mourinho has real competition for places, which should force some of that talent to kick on. With Costa up front, in form Willian behind him and the creative talents of Cesc Fabregas or Oscar, you’d fancy Chelsea to get that much needed win.
While it won’t be easy, we see the Blues getting the job done here. So far, the Champions League performances have been pretty solid, they’ve just been unlucky with results. With their backs to the wall, the team should do enough to turn things around, and get back into the qualifying spots.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1