After a somewhat disappointing home draw against Schalke 04 for day one of the UEFA Champions League group stage, Chelsea will now have to do everything within their reach in order to clinch a positive result on their trip to Lisbon, where they will face the historical Portuguese side Sporting CP.
Tuesday’s match will also mark the return of José Mourinho to his homeland, from where he departed ten years ago after winning the Champions League with FC Porto. The Special One is probably worried with the current condition of Diego Costa and although he wants to use the Brazilian born Spanish forward in the match against Sporting, he is also aware that yet another 90 minutes might cause some serious damage to the injury that has been taunting him for quite some time.
After two consecutive draws against Schalke 04 and Manchester City, Chelsea returned to wins during the past week as they overcame Bolton and Aston Villa in just four days’ time. This season’s Chelsea is fairly different from the one that the Portuguese boss built last term, but probably the main difference is related to the team’s attitude during the matches and the pressure they apply on their opponents when not in possession of the ball.
For the match against Sporting CP, Mourinho will certainly promote some changes in his team since Chelsea will have to measure forces with Arsenal over the weekend.
GK – Courtois – The Belgian international relegated the experienced Petr Cech to the bench and he has been doing good so far, despite the seven goals he conceded at Premier League so far. Judging from Mourinho’s recent options, Courtois will be the one to defend Chelsea’s net at Alvalade next Tuesday.
RB – Ivanovic – The Serbian player has been of paramount importance at the Blues because of his high work rate and especially due to his ability to work as the third centre back whenever needed, allowing the other full back to go up on the field quite often.
CB – John Terry – Terry is the rock at Chelsea’s defence line and despite his age he continues to be the team’s voice of command. The Blues don’t have many options for that particular area of the pitch, thus both Terry and Cahill will certainly maintain their place in starting lineup for quite some time.
CB – Gary Cahill – Cahill has been enjoying a good season so far and Chelsea fans have certainly already forgotten David Luiz, who moved to PSG in the Summer. His partnership with Terry is fairly successful despite the unusual amount of goals the team has already conceded so far.
LB – Filipe Luis – It was expected that Filipe Luis would be able to claim his place in the team fairly easily this season, but so far, he hasn’t been able to relegate a hard working Azpilicueta to the bench on Premier League matches. However, the Brazilian defender was part of the starting lineup against Schalke at Stamford Bridge and Mourinho should deposit his trust on him for next Tuesday’s match once again.
DM – Matic – Pundits raised their eyebrows when Matic returned to Chelsea last season, but the truth is that he has already proven them wrong. The Serbian midfielder has been of vital importance on the team’s midfield and he doesn’t face any real competition in the team at the moment.
DLP – Cesc Fàbregas – The Spanish playmaker is probably one of the main culprits for Chelsea’s high quality game flow this season. The Blues lacked a playmaker with his intelligence last season, someone able to build up his team’s game from behind and he performs that task fairly efficiently.
BBM – Óscar – Óscar’s performances have been somewhat inconsistent so far this season but he has already proven to be right man to build up a liaison between the midfield and the forward line. He will certainly be the chosen one to create mayhem in that no man’s land between the opponents’ defence and midfield lines next Tuesday.
AMR – Willian – Former Shakhtar and Anzhi attacking midfielder is enjoying a very positive moment and he even scored a goal against Aston Villa last weekend. With Ramires still recovering from a minor injury that struck him down, Willian should be the one elected to play on the right attacking sector of the team.
LW / IF – Hazard – The Belgian wonderboy has also been doing quite good this season and he is by far quite more pro-active than what he was last season. His ability to assume several different tasks in the front transforms him into a fairly valuable asset at Mourinho’s team this season.
CF – Diego Costa – Drogba took his place in the starting line-up in the match against Schalke 04 two weeks ago, especially because the Portuguese boss wanted to give him some time to rest. Diego Costa’s injury has been forcing Mourinho to leave him out of the team everytime he can, but he has already claimed that he will use him next Tuesday. The Brazilian born Spanish international is currently on a fantastic moment and he has already netted in eight goals in six Premier League matches so far this season, something that transforms him into an almost irreplaceable element in the team.