The Blues face Schalke at Stamford Bridge two weeks after their 3-0 win in Gelsenkirchen knowing that another win would give them a fantastic chance of not only progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League but also topping Group E and potentially avoiding one of the top sides in the next round.
That 3-0 success in Germany came with a brace from Fernando Torres and a late strike from Eden Hazard and whilst the Schalke boss may have been justified in arguing the result was harsh on his side, Chelsea were clinical and did the job that was required of them.
After the opening loss in the competition at the Bridge to Basel there must have been fears that the Special One was not so special after all and that his attempts to lift a third Champions League crown with a third club would have to wait another season at least. However, a 4-0 win in Bucharest and the aforementioned 3-0 victory over Schalke have restored order and a third straight win in the competition seems highly probably here.
The Pensioners are definitely showing signs of adapting to Jose Mourinho’s ways and results and performances are improving, with eight wins in nine prior to the weekend trip to Newcastle. Home form, the anomalous reversal against Basel aside, has been as strong as one would expect from a Mourinho side and that alone is enough to suggest Wednesday’s match should be relatively painless.
The Portuguese boss has a sensational record spanning all his clubs, and went 150 games unbeaten at home in the league before the run was ended by Sporting Gijon whilst Mourinho was at Real Madrid. Since then he has amassed 27 wins and four draws with Real and has a 100% record from his five games in the Premier League this term with the Blues.
That gives an indication of the size of the task facing Schalke and given they are currently just seventh in the Bundesliga with four wins from their opening 10 games it would be an optimistic fan that expects them to upset the home side. Julian Draxler, potentially a target for Chelsea, is the man the Pensioners will have to marshal but Schalke’s major problems are at the back. They have kept just two clean sheets in the Bundesliga this term, conceding two goals or more on seven occasions and Mourinho will be keen for his strikers to make hay here.
If Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba (or whichever combination is selected) can all get somewhere near their best form then they should score for fun given the supply line from midfield. This should be a decent opportunity for them to build their confidence although the Special One may choose to rotate his squad given the number of fixtures being played recently and it is anyone’s guess which one or two will get the nod.
Irrespective of who takes to the field though the home fans will be hoping for a similar score to the reverse fixture although an even more impressive win would be a great marker to lay down ahead of the harder European tests to come.
LCN verdict: 3-0 to the Blues