Chelsea Football Club looks to remain unbeaten on the season as they welcome Queens Park Rangers to Stamford Bridge this Saturday (11 AM EST). They will do so with the help of a couple of star players, whom they’ve been without for the past few weeks.
Manager, Jose Mourinho, stated this week that, “Without any further complications, Diego Costa and Ramires will be fit to face QPR at the weekend.”
The return of Costa, is especially important, given the injury to fellow striker, Loic Remy, will keep him sidelined for at least the next week. Aside from Remy, the only other Chelsea player not in contention is left back, Cesar Azpilicueta, who is still suspended after picking up a red card a couple of weeks ago.
QPR, who picked up just their second win of the season last Monday, have the worst goal recorded in the Premier League. That is unlikely to change against a Chelsea team that has scored 24 in 9 games. At home, against a struggling side, it is very likely the Chelsea team will be set up to attack quickly and often.
Thibault Courtois had another impressive performance last weekend against Manchester United and will surely get the nod against QPR. The Belgian has only conceded two goals in his last five starts, keeping three clean sheets during that span. Against a team that’s only scored eight in nine, Courtois will be disappointed with anything other than a shutout.
Chelsea’s defensive lineup this season has been the definition of predictable. Until Azpilicueta’s suspension, the same back four started the first eight league games. The obvious replacement for Azpilicueta is the former Atletico Madrid standout, Filipe Luis. Luis is at his best when joining the attack, something he will look to do against QPR.
John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic were rested in midweek when Mourinho gave the start to a couple of teenagers. Though both Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen played well, the elder statesmen will return to their positions come Saturday. Filling out the backline will be Gary Cahill.
QPR striker Charlie Austin scored twice last Monday, and is the biggest threat to Chelsea’s defense. Though his pace is no match for the likes of Cahill, his size could prove troublesome. Chelsea will do well to keep him off the score sheet.
The return of Ramires provides Mourinho will some options in the center of midfield. The Chelsea boss will be conscious of the criticism that has befallen Oscar in the past regarding his ability to play the top level for an entire season. After a week in which he played 180 minutes it seems like a good time to give him a break with the Champions League on the horizon, and insert Ramires back into the lineup.
Nemanja Matic has been as impressive as anyone in the Premier League this season. Matic seems unbeatable as he sits in front of the back four stopping any attack from developing further than midfield. His defensive ability and composure brings calmness to a midfield full of attacking flare.
Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard have been the two players who are running Chelsea’s offense. Fabregas leads the league in assists and has contributed some goals as well. Hazard is a force when running at defenses with the ball at his feet and is the most fouled player in the Premier League. The two of them will look to facilitate the attack, creating plenty of trouble for QPR.
Willian came off the bench against Shrewsbury and provided the cross that lead to Chelsea’s winning goal. He admits he needs to score more, but until Schurrle or Salah also start scoring, Willian is the pick to start on the right hand side.
Chelsea welcome the Premier League’s leading goal scorer back after a four game absence. The nature of his injury has been the cause of bickering between Mourinho and Spain Manager, Vicente Del Bosque, who this week insisted he will be stubborn on using Costa during international weeks. This annoyed Mourinho, who claimed that the reason Costa was injured is due to his time with the national side in early October. This can all go away if Costa gets back to scoring ways on Saturday.
Didier Drogba has also been in fine form lately, scoring two in two, including a vintage header against United that brings back memories of a certain Champions League final goal. With the return of Costa, it is likely the 36-year-old will find himself starting on the bench and relieving Costa at some point in the second half.