Chelsea: Analyzing Blues' Next 5 Opponents

Max TowleAnalyst IOctober 12, 2012

Chelsea: Analyzing Blues' Next 5 Opponents

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    Chelsea are first in the Premier League, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are currently playing some of the best attacking football in the game, and Fernando Torres is back in form—life is good for a Blues fan at present.

    Flying wins over Wolves (in the Capital One Cup, admittedly), Nordsjaelland and Norwich City have been tempered by the more grinding sort-of victories over Stoke City and Arsenal—games which often separate the champions from the chumps.

    But who's next for Roberto Di Matteo's side? Some tricky ties lie on the horizon, including two against Premier League behemoths Manchester United. Tough opponents await in the Champions League as well.

    Here's a rundown on the next five teams to face the Blues.

Tottenham Hotspur (Oct. 20)

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    Recent Form: WWWDW

    Key Player: Moussa Dembele

    London rivals Tottenham have hit a bit of a purple patch of late, with former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas having found a comfortable niche in north London.

    White Hart Lane will provide the setting for what will surely prove a difficult fixture for the Blues, as they seek to become the first opponent to win at the ground this season.

    Tottenham's turnaround from a disappointing opening to the current campaign can be in large attributed to the arrival of new signing Moussa Dembele, who has provided a dominant assurance in the central midfield alongside Sandro.

    If Juan Mata and Eden Hazard can find a path past them, a huge victory could be on the cards.

    My Prediction: 2-1 Chelsea

Shakhtar Donetsk (Oct. 23, Nov. 7)

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    Recent Form: WWWDW

    Key Player: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

    The flair of Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk will do battle with Chelsea twice in the coming weeks, as the contenders begin to emerge from the Champions League group stage.

    All eyes will no doubt be on potential Blues target Willian on the flanks, but in truth, Shakhtar's most dangerous player is fast becoming Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

    The 23-year-old has scored six goals in the past four weeks and is the best player you've (probably) never heard of.

    With the first of the two clashes held in the fiery pit of Ukraine, if Chelsea can get a result there, the Stamford Bridge tie a few weeks later should prove a less edgy affair.

    My Prediction: 1-0 Chelsea, 3-1 Chelsea

Manchester United (Oct. 28, Oct. 31)

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    Recent Form: WWLWW

    Key Player: Wayne Rooney

    Manchester United have been coldly efficient in the season's early goings, winning games whilst playing poorly and perfecting the art of dodgy defending.

    But with a big win at Newcastle seemingly representing a return to form, the Blues will have a difficult job on their hands stopping the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie from creating scoring opportunities.

    Having met in the Premier League on October 28, the two sides meet again days later in the Capital One Cup, where both managers are sure to deploy weaker lineups.

    A tough couple of games—both of which are at Stamford Bridge—to predict that in all honesty could go either way, I'm taking the easy route and forecasting draws, with Chelsea to win the cup clash on penalties just cause.

    My Prediction: 2-2 draw, 1-1 draw

Swansea City (Nov. 3)

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    Recent Form: LLWLD

    Key Player: Michel Vorm

    Everything had seemed rosy for the Swans a couple of weeks into the season as they rode their way to dominating wins over QPR and West Ham.

    And in truth, Michael Laudrup's side were well-deserving of those victories, with his team playing slick passing football too quick for their opponents to keep up with.

    But the gloss has since worn off with the style of old quickly dissipating, to be replaced by fractured, disjointed football that looks incapable of winning games against any Premier League side.

    Swansea's key will no doubt be fantastic goalkeeper Michel Vorm, who displays excellent reflexes and handling between the sticks.

    My Prediction: 4-1 Chelsea

Liverpool (Nov. 11)

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    Recent Form: LWWLD

    Key Player: Luis Suarez

    The Reds have been "Jekyll and Hyde" this season, playing some uninspired football at times and dropping points, whilst showing some fantastic form that perhaps hasn't gotten the deserved results in other games.

    But anytime a club possesses an "us against the world" mentality, one can never be sure which team will turn up on any given Sunday.

    Stamford Bridge will host Brendan Rodgers' side a little under a month from now in what is sure to be an intriguing clash of attractive football philosophies.

    The tricky Luis Suarez will be the danger man, with the form of the Uruguayan's shooting boots key to Liverpool's chances, at least until reinforcements can be brought to Anfield in January.

    My Prediction: 2-0 Chelsea