Chelsea v Manchester City Preview (Premier League) – 31st January 2015

Manchester City visit the Bridge on Saturday as the Premier League’s top two come head to head in a monster of a clash. With a five point gap separating these two sides, this game could be crucial to deciding the destination of this season’s title, and with such high stakes potentially on the line, this is the biggest game of the season so far.

The problem for both sides is that they come into the game without some of their key players. For Chelsea, they had a gruelling League Cup semi-final clash with Liverpool on Tuesday that lasted 120 minutes, which is bound to take its toll. Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis both came off injured in that game, and they’re both doubts for the City clash. Luis played well on Tuesday, so missing him is a shame, but Cesar Azpilicueta is an able deputy.

Fabregas is the bigger miss, and he may be joined by top scorer Diego Costa. The frontman was seen stamping on Martin Skrtel during the League Cup game, and the FA could well hit him with a ban after some blanket coverage by Sky Sports News. If those three were out, that would be a massive blow to Jose Mourinho in a match he could really do with winning.

Having said that, City are missing a few players of their own. They’re currently without Samir Nasri, who is injured, while Yaya Toure and Wilfred Bony are currently at the African Cup of Nations. There is a chance they will be back in time for the game on Saturday, but without them City would certainly be a weaker team.

There’s also the Frank Lampard sub-plot going into this game, with the Blues legend possibly starting for City on Saturday. With Toure gone, they need experience and forward runs from midfield, and Lampard is the perfect candidate for that. While it may be difficult for the home fans to see him play against their team, especially since he extended his deal last month, he should still get a good welcome at his former stomping ground.

The big question going into the match is how are both teams planning to set up? City really should come here playing to avoid defeat, as a loss would open a huge gap at the top, but they’re likely to stick to their guns and attack. While Chelsea, who know just how big a win could be, will hopefully go for the game and try and take the three points. A lot of that will probably depend on the availability of Fabregas and Costa.

While we’ve seen City claw back a deficit already this season, an eight point lead would be a huge advantage for the Pensioners. The Blues would still be catchable at the top, but they’d know they were strong, strong favourites, and they’d have the title comfortably in their hands. While a draw would keep them ahead, City haven’t won in three of their last four, and hopefully Mourinho and his team smell blood heading in to this one.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1

Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool AET (aggregate 2-1) Match report – 27th January 2015

Chelsea booked their place in the League Cup final with an extra time victory over Liverpool in an incident packed game. The game was goalless after 90 minutes and the scores were locked at 1-1 on aggregate (away goals not counting double until after extra time), before Branislav Ivanovic sprung up to head in the only goal early in the first period of extra time. Liverpool were unable to find a response, so Chelsea progress to the final on March 1st.

The Blues returned to a strong side after fielding a rotated team for the Bradford game at the weekend. The one shock was Gary Cahill missing out, with Kurt Zouma coming in. This had been something fans were clamouring for, although it seemed to be a decision based more on Zouma’s pace than Cahill’s recent form.

Zouma was tested right from the off, and he had a difficult time of things early on as he was targeted by Raheem Sterling. He did make a few good challenges, and he grew in to the game. Chelsea also grew in to the game, and they should have had a penalty in the first half when Diego Costa was brought down by Martin Skrtel. Costa was in the middle of a storm after he was accused of stamping on Skrtel earlier in the game.

Chelsea had Thibaut Courtois to thank at times in the first half, as he stopped Liverpool going ahead on several occasions. Come the second half, the Reds were thanking the referee for keeping them in it. Jordan Henderson and Lucas were both lucky not to see second yellow cards for bookable offences, while the referee was all too happy to book Blues players.

Chelsea dominated in the second half, but neither side really had too many clear cut chances. It was a cagey affair, but everything changed just minutes in to extra time. Chelsea won a free kick at the edge of the area, but Lucas didn’t receive a yellow card for his foul on Eden Hazard. Mourinho was busy complaining about that to the fourth official, and consequently he missed Branislav Ivanovic getting on the end of the free kick to score the crucial opening goal.

Liverpool should have equalised in extra time through Jordan Henderson, but he headed wide with the goal at his mercy. Both sides traded counter attacks after that, but in the end Ivanovic’s goal was enough to seal a first League Cup final appearance since 2008.

The victory did come at a cost, with Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis both having to come off injured during the game. On top of that the players had to complete 120 minutes, with a huge game against Manchester City to come on Saturday. They’ve still booked a place in a Wembley final, so that should be worth the sacrifice.

LCN Man of the Match: Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea v Liverpool Preview (League Cup) – 27th January 2015

Chelsea are looking to pick themselves up by booking a place at Wembley with a win over Liverpool after Saturday’s abysmal 4-2 defeat by Bradford. The Blues will need to improve massively if they’re to avoid crashing out of a second competition in the space of a few days. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Anfield, Chelsea are favourites to progress to March’s League Cup final.

After Jose Mourinho named a massively changed side for the Bradford game, he’s in a bit of a predicament ahead of this match. The players brought in did little to impress, and they’re unlikely to be given another chance on Tuesday. But, with a huge league game against Manchester City coming up on Saturday, can Mourinho afford to play his big names?

He doesn’t seem to have much choice at the minute, after the shambles into which the second string descended on Saturday. John Terry needs to come back, as his importance to the team has rarely ever seemed so clear. Nemanja Matic was missed, as were the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard. With the second string low on confidence, the first team will have to play, despite the enormity of the game on Saturday.

Liverpool will come here buoyed by the Bradford result and their performance in the first leg. The Reds had 20 shots on goal at Anfield last week, and they cut through the Blues’ backline after some great play by Raheem Sterling. Coming to the Bridge level keeps them in the game, even if they face a tough ask to get through. The weekend performance means they’ll believe they can progress to the final, with Brendan Rodgers on the lookout for his first trophy.

A title winning team, and a Mourinho team, is defined by their ability to bounce back from a setback. Chelsea have done that well in recent years, and this is the perfect way to bounce back from the FA Cup result. While no one will be happy with it, booking a League Cup final place will overshadow a shock early defeat in the FA Cup. Given that the Bridge had a subdued atmosphere in the home ends on Saturday, this is the perfect way to liven up the Bridge, just as Mourinho demanded weeks ago.

While the League Cup isn’t top of many people’s list of priorities, it’s still a trophy. Mourinho has spoken before about the positive effect it can have on the team to win it going into the latter stages of the season, so you can bet he’ll be taking it seriously. His words before and after the Bradford game were about challenging on all fronts no matter what effect it has on the title race, so he’s clearly up for this game.

We should see a more attacking team than the one that played at Anfield, with John Obi Mikel likely to make way for Oscar. It’s not enough to sit back on the result they have, a win is needed to put the game to bed early ahead of the City game. After the weekend’s cup shock, Chelsea certainly need a response.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1

Chelsea 2-4 Bradford Match Report – 24th January 2015

Chelsea threw away a 2-0 lead in an embarrassing display as they crashed out of the FA Cup against Bradford on Saturday. It will be a result that will go down in history for both the League One side and the FA Cup in general. Gary Cahill and Ramires put the home side ahead, but Bradford roared back with goals from Jon Stead, Felipe Morais, Andy Halliday and Mark Yeates sending them through.

Jose Mourinho fielded a second string side with one eye on the League Cup semi against Liverpool on Tuesday. Youngster Andreas Christensen was among those given a chance, while Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were all given a rest. With a huge gap between these sides, Mourinho would have expected his second string to come through comfortably.

And early on, they did. Petr Cech was at his best to deny Bradford, before the Blues took the lead. Gary Cahill flicked the ball home from a corner to put Chelsea ahead. Ramires made it 2-0 late in the first half, slotting home after a lung busting run and trading passes with Mo Salah. They looked to be comfortably heading into the next round, but somehow they collapsed.

From the home side’s point of view, things took a turn for the worse just minutes after their second goal, as Stead pulled one back for Bradford. He found himself unmarked at the edge of the box, and his shot was too powerful for Cech to keep out. The defending there was poor, but things were just about to get a whole lot worse.

With just 15 minutes to go former Chelsea academy player Morais hit home an equaliser as he found himself completely free in the box too. Mourinho’s side seemed to have utterly forgotten the concept of marking, with runners having an absolute field day. As the defenders followed the ball, they were all at sea when it came across to Morais, and he had little work to do to level the scores.

You’d expect a response after that, and the Blues’ reaction was full scale attack. It’s tough to say if that was something decided by the manager or the players, but either way it cost them. They had a couple of minor chances to avoid a replay, but then they fell behind. Once again the players were drawn to the ball like moths to a flame, abandoning all positions and throwing the shape of the team into disarray. That left Halliday in all kinds of space at the edge of the box, and he was able to sweep the ball past Cech to send the visiting fans wild.

Once again, Chelsea threw themselves forward looking for an equaliser. When Bradford then got the ball and came forward, they were once again all out of position. They were in such poor shape that somehow Stead managed to tee up Yeates whose run was unmarked, despite there being five Chelsea defenders in the box. There was a limp effort to try and dispossess Yeates, but he tapped home from close range to cap a great day for the travelling support, and an awful one for the Premier League leaders.

Chelsea v Bradford Preview (FA Cup) – 24th January 2015

Chelsea are in FA Cup fourth round action on Saturday as they welcome League One side Bradford to the Bridge. With a huge gap between the two sides in the football pyramid, it’s likely that there will be a bit of rotation. As the team look to continue fighting on all fronts, this game is one to be taken seriously, as we know that anything can happen when it comes to the cup.

This could have been Millwall coming to the Bridge, but Bradford won the replay between those two, much to the relief of the Stamford Bridge stewards. That means the Yorkshire side are coming down for their big fourth round tie, and they made the final of the 2013 League Cup, causing a few shocks on the way, so they are a side who can cause problems in the cups.

Cups are what Chelsea are fighting for this week, as before we get to the crunch game against Manchester City in the league, there is the Bradford game and the League Cup semi second leg against Liverpool. There’s a lot to play for in that Liverpool game, and with a strong team needed for both that and obviously the City game, we should see a few squad players given a run out this here.

The last cup game against Watford needed a few cameos off the bench to get the team through to the next round, and Jose Mourinho won’t want to have to go down that route again. Expect Petr Cech back in goal, while the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas are likely to miss out ahead of the big games next week.

One good part of this will be seeing a few young players getting a chance in the side, with the likes of Kurt Zouma ready to step in. He’s been in good form when he’s been given the chance in the side, and he could do with more first team chances if he’s to become a leading centre half for the club, in the mould of John Terry. Others like Mo Salah and Loic Remy should get a chance, given how appearances in the first team have been limited for them this season.

It would be great to see a few of the academy graduates also making an appearance, but Mourinho doesn’t seem to trust them that often, even in cup games. A late cameo would be good for a few of the players that could become the next home grown talent, but don’t expect it to happen, as they were left out completely against Watford.

This game will be a good test to see just how the squad players cope in a game where they are up against a side defending for their lives. You’d think that the gap in quality would shine through, but without the likes of Hazard and Fabregas the Blues are a little too functional. Hopefully that won’t be the case this time, and the big guns can be kept on the bench ahead of the big clashes next week.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-0

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea Match Report – 20th January 2015

Chelsea’s League Cup semi final is finely balanced going into the second leg next week, after the two sides couldn’t be separated at Anfield. Eden Hazard gave the visitors the lead from the spot in the first half, but Raheem Sterling equalised in the second. The hosts then turned up the pressure, but they couldn’t find the winner to put themselves ahead going into the second leg on Tuesday.

Before the game, Thibaut Courtois returned to the side after recovering from the finger injury that’s kept him out recently, with Petr Cech dropping to the bench. The only other change was John Obi Mikel coming in for Oscar, with Cesc Fabregas taking up a more advanced role.

That set up hinted that Chelsea were planning on playing a more defensive style here, and that showed with Liverpool having most of the ball early on. They put the Blues defence under pressure, and Thibaut Courtois had to race to the left touchline to clear the ball when he was closed down in possession. It was certainly a nervy early start for the visitors, but they grew in to the game slowly.

Liverpool handed the lead on a platter after a quarter of an hour, when Emre Can brought down Eden Hazard in the box. It was the Belgian who stepped up to the spot, and he coolly tucked away the penalty to give Chelsea the lead, and a possibly important away goal.

That was the only goal of the opening half, and despite not having too many chances, the away side were actually good value for the lead. Things did change after half time though. We have seen Jose Mourinho sit back on 1-0 leads a few times this season and pay for it, and you got the feeling the same was happening after half time. The Reds came flying out in the second half looking for an equaliser.

Liverpool’s tempo was far higher, and they took the game to Chelsea, and they started to find a way through the defence that had held pretty firm in the first half. They finally got the breakthrough when the defensive shield of Nemanja Matic and Mikel parted. Mikel was out of position, and he was slow tracking back when Sterling picked the ball up in space. The entire Chelsea defence backed off the youngster, leaving him free to slot a fine effort into the bottom corner.

Steven Gerrard hit the post with a spot from just outside the box soon after as Liverpool went on the hunt for a winner. Substitute Adam Lallana came closest, as his volley looked destined for the net, but Courtois pulled off a fantastic save while the winger ran off celebrating prematurely. The Belgian keeper was superb all night, and he played a big part in keeping the scores level. This result means it’s still all to play for in the second leg next week.

LCN Man of the Match: Thibaut Courtois

Liverpool v Chelsea Preview (League Cup) – 20th January 2014

Chelsea head to Anfield on Tuesday night for the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi final against Liverpool. This competition wouldn’t have been top priority for either of these two sides this season, but with the chance of silverware so close, neither will want to crash out now.

Brendan Rodgers has yet to win a trophy since joining Liverpool, and he’ll see this as a great opportunity to change that. Jose Mourinho hasn’t won anything in his second spell at Chelsea either, and winning the Capital One Cup would be a good way for him to end back to back seasons without silverware.

Another thing about this competition is how it can affect a season. Mourinho spoke quite a lot in his first season about how a League Cup win could spur his side on. Winning it would give the team belief for the title chase in the run in, and that will be the case again this season. A win in this competition would be a foundation to use to push on in the hunt for other trophies this term.

So, this competition isn’t just a good boost to the trophy cabinet, it can be a positive force for the season, too. City won both the League Cup and the Premier League last season, and Mourinho will be targeting exactly that once again, with Chelsea looking to lift the league title this term.

On top of that, this fixture is usually a fiery one, given how previous meetings have gone. The Blues won twice at Anfield last term, including a victory which effectively denied the Reds the title last. This will be a heated clash, as Mourinho is never welcomed to Anfield, given how many times he’s got one over the Reds in his time in England. His celebrations in the 2005 League Cup final are still remembered there, given the penchant for history in those parts.

Going into this one, there are few injury worries in the squad. Cesar Azpilicueta missed the game at the weekend with a groin injury, but he could be back for this game. Thibaut Courtois also has a minor injury, but with Petr Cech looking impressive in his place in recent weeks that shouldn’t be too big a miss. The rest of the squad seem to be fit, and it’s likely we’ll see a strong line-up on Tuesday.

With an FA Cup game against Bradford coming up after this, the big names can be rested then, so they’re free to play in midweek. With a clash against City coming up next week just after the second leg, it would be in the Blues’ interest to get a good footing in the tie at Anfield. Given their recent record at Liverpool, they’re sure to be confident of getting a result here, and getting themselves ahead in the tie.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1

Swansea 0-5 Chelsea Match Report – 17th January 2014

Chelsea opened up a five point gap at the top of the Premier League table with a thumping win over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. The Blues got off to a flyer with Oscar scoring in the first minute. Diego Costa added two more goals, before Oscar scored again. Andre Schurrle came off the bench to wrap up an impressive win for the visitors.

Thibaut Courtois once again missed out having not fully recovered from a finger injury, with Petr Cech continuing in goal. Mourinho picked a strong side, and he showed no intention of resting players ahead of the trip to Anfield on Tuesday. Felipe Luis came in for Cesar Azpilicueta at left back.

Chelsea’s trip to the Liberty last season was a struggle, but Oscar made sure this time would be easier by opening the scoring early on. Gylfi Sigurdsson gave the ball away and the Brazilian was right on to it, before hammering an effort in from just outside the box. That summed up Swansea’s day, as they were sloppy against a ruthless Chelsea side.

The second goal came after 20 minutes, with Cesc Fabregas, Oscar and Willian playing some neat passing football around the Swansea area. Once again it was Fabregas who got the assist, as he found Costa who was free in the box, and he applied the finish to double the lead. Strangely, in a game were Chelsea scored five, that was Fabregas’ only assist of the day.

That may have been down to how helpful the Swansea defenders were, as their uncharacteristic misplaced passes led to a few goals. That happened for the third one, as Fernandez gave the ball away to Costa who had just the keeper to beat, and he provided the finish that extended the lead.

The game was completely over by half time, when the Blues extended their lead even further. Costa turned provider this time when Willian fed him the ball on the right hand side. He looked up and found the run of Oscar, who swept the ball home to score his second of the game, and put the result here beyond doubt.

A response from Swansea was to be expected in the second half, and they looked more solid after the break. The second period couldn’t quite match up to the action packed first, and inevitably there were changes made with an eye on the game on Tuesday. Fabregas, Costa and Willian all made way, with Ramires, Loic Remy and Schurrle coming on.

It was Schurrle who had the biggest impact, when he finished off the scoring with the fifth goal. Branislav Ivanovic played a one-two with Eden Hazard and then he cut the ball back across the box into the path of Schurrle, who tapped home from close range. Next up for the Blues are two big games, with Liverpool away coming on Tuesday, before the clash against Manchester City on Saturday.

LCN Man of the Match: Diego Costa

Chelsea FC: The Season So Far (January 2015)

In mid-January, we’re just over the halfway point in terms of the Premier League, and we’re currently around the halfway point of the season as a whole. So, just how has this campaign gone so far? And what is to come? Here we are going to look back at the highs and lows of 2014/15 so far for Chelsea, and see just who and what stands in the way of success.

First up, the Premier League. It’s been quite a ride, including talk of an unbeaten season before Manchester City roared back into contention. The Blues made it in to December with an unbeaten record, but that came crashing down in a defeat at Newcastle. After opening up a lead at the top that was so large Paddy Power paid out on Chelsea winning the league, City came back to become joint leaders. The low point certainly had to be the 5-3 defeat at Spurs on New Year’s Day, which saw City go level at the top, and left Jose Mourinho red faced with anger.

After all the victories this season, picking a highlight is difficult. The 6-3 win at Everton was probably the most entertaining game thus far, with both sides playing some brilliant attacking football, while the wins over Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs all had very impressive performances. All in all, with Diego Costa leading the scoring charts and with Chelsea leading the way at the top, it’s been a very good season so far. With all but one of their away games against last year’s top 10 played, things should be a little more comfortable in the run in – in theory at least.

The Champions League is currently having its winter hibernation, but it’s been an impressive European season so far for the 2012 winners. They secured qualification to the last 16 and top spot in the group after just five games, and they made it through the group stage unbeaten. They did it in impressive fashion, too, scoring 17 goals and conceding just three. The highlight was undoubtedly the 5-0 win at Schalke, which saw the Blues book their place in the next round. With PSG up next, there’s certainly a big challenge ahead.

Mourinho won the League Cup twice in his first spell, and he’s in with a chance of winning it again this season, with his side through to the semi final stage. Bolton, Shrewsbury and Derby have been seen off in the competition so far, and we’ve seen strong line ups selected throughout despite the relatively easy matches. We’ll need to see that again, with a two legged clash against Liverpool up next set to bee a much tougher challenge, starting at Anfield.

The other domestic competition, the FA Cup, has only just got under way, but Chelsea won their first game in this season’s competition against Watford in the third round. It was a comfortable 3-0 win in the end, and given how well they’ve done in this competition in the last few years, there’s a good chance that they’ll be going a lot further. Its lower league opposition up next as well, as League One Bradford come to Stamford Bridge.

While the team have been fantastic this season, there’s been more than a few stand out players. Picking a top three was close to impossible, but here is an attempt at singling out the best performers of the campaign, although naturally enough some that many people might have included didn’t quite make it.

It really was a toss-up between two players to complete the top three, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Eden Hazard coming close after they both have had great seasons. They’ve made a good combination on the left hand side, but Hazard just sneaks it due to his impact going forward. Moments like his goal at Southampton meant it was just too hard to leave him out. He’s becoming a threat from the left just due to his presence, freeing up space for the others to exploit.

Next up, is Cesc Fabregas. The former Arsenal man joined from Barcelona in the summer, which hardly endeared him to the Chelsea faithful. Despite that, he hit the ground running, getting an assist in his first game, and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s already equalled the highest assists tally in the league from the entirety of last season, and he’s well on course to break Thierry Henry’s Premier League assists record of 20 in a single campaign. He’s added a new dimension going forward, and his link up play with Oscar and Hazard has been nothing short of brilliant at times.

But, Chelsea’s best player this term has been Nemanja Matic. The Serbian has been great anchoring the midfield, whilst showing he can be a threat going forward, too. His main role has been breaking up play in the middle, and it was in his first absence of the season that the Blues lost their unbeaten record. He wasn’t at his best in the defeat at Spurs, but so far this season he’s dominated the midfield, and struck up a great partnership with Cesc Fabregas, offering brilliant balance to the side. Mourinho called him the team’s best player, and it’s hard to argue with that. Many will be amazed that Costa hasn’t made our list and we’d certainly give the forward a straight “A”, but such as been the Pensioners’ brilliance thus far it takes an “A-star” to make our top three.

After a good season to date, what is to come in the second part of the campaign? With four competitions to compete in, how will the Blues deal with the potential fixture pile up? We saw over the Christmas period just how a busy run of games affected the team, dropping points at Southampton and Spurs, and if the title favourites progress further in the cups, fixture congestion could become a real problem.

It’s unlikely that Mourinho will dip into the transfer market, so the current squad will have to make do. One thing that is going for them in the league, is how their away games have panned out. The big away games are almost all behind them, and the last eight Premier League games in April and May are all in London, bar one, so that should certainly help.

The Premier League title is going to be the big aim this season, but Mourinho isn’t one to turn down silverware. Both he and Chelsea went without a trophy last season, and that’s something they need to address. Capital One Cup success isn’t far away, while the Champions League looks more open than it has been in years. The FA Cup might be the one to suffer from the packed fixture list, but we know from history that the manager has to win one of the big two to keep himself in the job.

But, just how do you see the season going? We predicted back in the summer that there would be successes in the League and League Cup, with some strong showings in the Champions League and FA Cup. Do you think that’s realistic? Whatever happens, it’s shaping up to be the most exciting run-in in recent years and it’s great to see Chelsea leading the way as spring approaches.

Swansea v Chelsea Preview (Premier League) – 17th January 2014

Chelsea head in to their game at Swansea at the weekend knowing they could go five points clear of second placed Manchester City with a win. The Blues opened up a two point gap last weekend, and with City not in action until Sunday, they have the chance to extend that gap even further.

The Blues take a fully fit squad into this game, so expect another full strength line up from Jose Mourinho. The only possible thing that could get in the way of that would be the trip to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup in midweek, but it’s likely that Mourinho will prioritise the league ahead of that game.

You may remember that these two sides had a top of the table clash earlier in the season, when Swansea came to Stamford Bridge with a 100% league record in early September. The game was far from easy for Chelsea, who had a 100% record themselves. The Swans lead for most of the first half through a John Terry own goal. Diego Costa got the home side ahead with a hat trick, before Loic Remy added a fourth. Jonjo Shelvey scored a consolation goal late on.

The Swans have dipped since then, but they still sit ninth in the table. They’ve beaten Arsenal at home already this season, so expect them to pose a threat to the Blues here. Midfielder Nemanja Matic’s comments this week left no one in doubt that the team are taking Swansea seriously.

“Swansea are very difficult to play against,” he said. “They have many good players and it’s always very hard to play against them. We expect a hard game there, we know they have a lot of quality. We will try to play our game in the best way and have to use our quality. It’s going to be difficult for sure. Before the game you never know what is going to happen.”

It will be a game where Chelsea are without possession for periods, given how well their opponents keep the ball. That has to be their main strength, so Matic’s ability to break up play in the middle of the park will be pivotal. If he has a repeat of the shocker at White Hart Lane, it’s hard to see Mourinho’s men returning with much. It just goes to show how important the Serbian has become since joining a year ago.

A difficult match is expected here, but Spurs came to the Liberty Stadium a few weeks ago and took all three points after really imposing themselves on the game. That might be how the Blues approach this one, with John Obi Mikel maybe joining Matic in midfield, with Fabregas pushed higher up. Thy know they face two big away games in the next couple of days, and those games could decide if Mourinho and Chelsea will face another trophy-less season or not.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1