Chelsea bounced back from Saturday’s disappointing defeat at the hands of Southampton in the league by knocking Manchester United out of the FA Cup on Monday and booking their place in the semi-finals at Wembley, and they could take a significant step towards the last four in the Europa League with a good performance against Rubin Kazan at Stamford Bridge tonight.
Rafael Benitez will be without Gary Cahill (knee), Ashley Cole (hamstring) and Monday’s winning goal-scorer Demba Ba, who is ineligible having already featured for Newcastle earlier in the competition. There is also the issue of who to play and who to rest ahead of a weekend fixture against Sunderland, especially as the Spaniard was forced to defend his team selection for the Saints loss.
The visitors have a few concerns of their own as they will miss the services of both Alexander Ryazantsev and Yann M’Vila, both miss the trip with injuries. And they also have fitness concerns over Alan Kasaev, who did not play against Lokomotiv Moscow last weekend.
C. Azpilicueta – J. Terry (c) – D. Luiz – R. Bertrand
F. Lampard – Ramires
V. Moses – Oscar – E. Hazard
Benitez is definitely going to shuffle the pack for this game and at least two changes have been forced on him as neither Cole or Ba can play in this one, but I can’t see Chelsea fielding a weak side in any competition this season and even though people weren’t entirely happy with the Saturday’s selection, it wasn’t a weak team, it just lacked either of the two players that have dragged us through the season. In any competition we’re serious about, we cannot afford to leave both Eden Hazard and Juan Mata out of the starting line-up, especially in the league as the top four is a priority despite the desire to win the cups on offer.
Cech, Turnbull, Hilario, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Bertrand, Luiz, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ake, Ramires, Oscar, Mata, Benayoun, Mikel, Moses, Lampard, Hazard, Marin, Torres.