Chelsea are looking to bounce back from losing their unbeaten record last weekend with a win over Hull this Saturday. After losing to Newcastle at St James’ Park, the league leaders know they have just a three point advantage, and they need to get on a good winning run to extend that lead. They host a Hull side who have already got results at Arsenal and Liverpool this term, so they know they need to be on their toes.
The Blues beat Sporting Lisbon in midweek in the Champions League, but that was with a much-changed side and with nothing on the line for them. The stakes are higher here, with Manchester City hot on the heels of Mourinho’s men. This fixture last season was the big return to the Bridge for Mourinho, and he’ll be looking for a similar result here.
Expect the team that takes the field here to be back to near the strongest side, after the changes made in midweek. Mourinho said every player in his team would get a rest at some point, but that’s more likely to come in the midweek League Cup game against Derby than in this match.
We should see the usual suspects in the backline for Chelsea, with Thibaut Courtois and John Terry ready to come in for Petr Cech and Kurt Zouma respectively. Filipe Luis should also make way, with Branislav Ivanovic coming back into the team, as Cesar Azpilicueta moves out to left back once more.
The big problem for the Blues is once again a suspension. While Nemanja Matic makes a welcome return after being suspended against Newcastle last week, his partner in the middle, Cesc Fabregas, is suspended for the game against Hull for picking up five yellow cards. It’s something which makes the game trickier for Chelsea, but hopefully it won’t be as bad as the gap Matic’s suspension left last week. Ramires is likely to come in for Fabregas and play alongside Matic.
Further forward, Mohammed Salah and Andre Schurrle should both make way for this game. Both of those players were solid against Sporting, with Schurrle grabbing a goal, but it’s hard to see Mourinho leaving out Willian or Eden Hazard. Oscar should also come back in here, with John Obi Mikel likely to make way. Those three are now firmly the first choice attacking midfielders, with Willian putting in some very impressive performances in recent weeks.
Diego Costa was the surprise choice in the Chelsea team against Sporting, he looked like he’d be rested given his injury record. Mourinho started him, saying that he got a break when he was suspended against Spurs last week. Given Costa’s recent performances, he looks like he needs a goal more than a rest. He’s not as clinical or as confident as he was earlier in the season, and a goal against Hull would be a great boost for him. We think he’ll find the net and help his side to a relatively comfortable victory.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0