The Premier League returns following the international break and Chelsea will host Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Fernando Torres has recovered from a knee injury and is available for selection but both Ashley Cole and Andre Schurrle will miss out.
Cole is still suffering with the rib injury that prevented him from taking part during the international break, whilst Schurrle picked up a knock during his time with the Germany squad.
As for the visitors, Malky Mackay has a clean bill of health as Andreas Cornelius is the only injury absentee. Peter Odemwingie is also expected to keep his place in the side ahead of local boy Craig Bellamy. But off the pitch events have been of the most concern for Cardiff fans recently and you have to wonder if that will affect them on Saturday.
Expected Chelsea XI:
B. Ivanovic – D. Luiz – J. Terry (c) – R. Bertrand
Ramires – F. Lampard
Oscar – J. Mata – E. Hazard
It’s been hard to predict Mourinho’s starting teams so far this season but I’m looking forward to see Ryan Bertrand get his chance at left-back as Cole has been off-form during the campaign and I believe it to be unhealthy to not have an alternative, so hope the 24-year-old takes the opportunity to impress and play as well as he did the last time he filled in for Cole.
I think the rest of the defence will be made up of the usual suspects and although Gary Cahill may be in with a shot I think Mourinho will stick with David Luiz. I’d like to see more of Cesar Azpilicueta this season but this hope is likely to be unfulfilled as Branislav Ivanovic has become a permanent fixture in his position.
Ramires has been our most consistent player so far this season and simply has to start, and I also think John Obi Mikel is the most suited partner to play alongside him, but Frank Lampard looks likeliest to start tomorrow. Ramires is 17/5 to score at any time with 888sport but Oscar, another top performer this season, could be a good bet at 40/17 to score at any time.
Schurrle has looked like a player that cannot hit a barn door for Chelsea but Mourinho may have opted to start him following his hat-trick against Sweden, but he’s out and Willian is the only other one knocking on the door to get in ahead of Eden Hazard, Oscar or Juan Mata. I’d like to see another chance for Kevin De Bruyne as he’s been out in the cold after his poor performance against Swindon in the Capital One Cup, which it’s a bit harsh seeing as Mourinho gave Schurrle eight opportunities before his one good performance against Steaua, but that’s a debate for another day.