Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be looking for an instant improvement from his side as they turn their attention to the Champions League Group E clash with Schalke '04.
A 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United at the weekend ended the Blues’ nine-game unbeaten run as the team put in an utterly uninspiring performance away from home.
Victory in this match would see Chelsea remain top of the group with two matches left to play, virtually guaranteeing their progress to the knockout stages. However, Schalke have shown themselves to be strong on the road so far this season, and Chelsea will need to be far more competitive than they were at St James’ Park if they are to get the desired result. Mourinho had this to say at his pre-match press conference (via chelseafc.com)
Their record away is very good, not just in the Bundesliga but also in European competitions, which means they feel much more comfortable playing away than at home. They are a very physical team which is not our case, I don't know what they want from the group phase, if they will try everything to finish first or just to finish second and progress in the Champions League. I have to prepare my team for both situations, for if they come here to win the game or if they will come here to play for a point, but the result out in Germany at this moment means nothing.
The Special One will certainly make changes to the XI that lost in the Premier League, starting with the back four.
Cesar Azpilicueta was singled out for praise in Mourinho’s program notes against Manchester City following his performance in Gelsenkirchen. He could return to his natural position at right-back, while Gary Cahill is likely to replace David Luiz at centre-half.
John Terry’s physicality and leadership will be key to keeping Schalke at bay, while Ashley Cole will remain at left-back as Ryan Bertrand sustained an injury in training (per chelseafc.com)
Frank Lampard was virtually a passenger against Newcastle. His passing accuracy was a woeful 76 percent and although the 35-year-old is still a key player for the Blues, this season has made it clear that he cannot play every week. John Obi Mikel should replace him as Ramires’ partner in the pivot to attempt to counter Schalke’s physically strong forwards.
Juan Mata will likely return to the bench after going missing for long periods in the game against Newcastle. Andre Schurrle is the most likely candidate to take his place, while Willian could start on the left of Oscar.
Fernando Torres’ fine form faltered slightly in the Premier League loss, and he has suffered a muscular injury in training. Mourinho confirmed at his press conference that the Spaniard would miss both of Chelsea’s upcoming fixtures, with Samuel Eto’o likely to take his place against Schalke.
This starting XI have the talent to beat Schalke at Stamford Bridge, and Mourinho will certainly make them well aware of the consequences of another poor performance.
You can see if my predicted lineup is correct and follow all of the action with Bleacher Report from 19:45 G.M.T on Wednesday 6th November.
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