John Terry returns to pilot Chelsea's defence in the UEFA Champions League. Image courtesy of chelseafc.com
It has been a topsy-turvy fortnight for Chelsea to say the least. A 2-1 loss in the UEFA Champions League to Shakhtar Donetsk was followed by the controversial 3-2 defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, where two Blues players were sent off. Then last week the Londoners reversed the result against United, winning 5-4 in the League Cup in extra time, but the Red Devils have now moved to the top of the Premier League table after Chelsea drew 1-1 with Swansea at the weekend.
There’s good news on the field this week as Chelsea looks to get its Champions League title defence back on track, with skipper John Terry returning to plug the Blues’ backline, which has leaked plenty of goals in recent weeks. The circus that is following this team will continue, though, given Terry is returning from suspension after being found guilty of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. Of equal importance is the expected return of playmaker Juan Mata to the line-up, after he missed the Swansea clash due to a hamstring injury.
Realistically, Roberto Di Matteo’s team needs to take the three points at home on Thursday morning (AEDT) if they’re to have any chance of finishing on top of Group E. The Ukrainians are already three points ahead after as many matches, and Chelsea’s next assignment is away to Juventus in Turin.
Shakhtar Donetsk outplayed its opponent two weeks ago, so the visitors almost certainly won’t be a walkover, even without a win, yet, on English soil. Brazilians Willian and Fernandinho were instrumental in their surprise victory over Chelsea, so if they take control again, it could be a tougher than expected night in front of the Bridge faithful.
There have been 11 goals scored in Chelsea’s three Champions League matches so far, and these teams went over the 2.5 goals mark last time they met, so it won’t be a surprise to see that point eclipsed again.
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