Chelsea will be relieved to return to Premier League action against West Ham on Saturday evening, following the international break. The Blues players had mixed fortunes with their countries and a few will be happy to get back to their bread and butter business of club football.
Eden Hazard started both of Belgium’s friendlies which resulted in 2-0 and 3-2 defeats to Colombia and Japan respectively. Frank Lampard received a special presentation of his 100th England cap before captaining the Three Lions to a 2-0 defeat against Chile. Gary Cahill was at fault for Alexis Sanchez’s second goal in stoppage time and was rested for the 1-0 defeat to Germany. Ashley Cole started that match but left the game after suffering a recurrence of the rib injury that saw him sidelined last month.
Chelsea’s Brazilians fared better, with Willian scoring his first goal in only his third outing with the national team, against Honduras. David Luiz captained the side that night, with Oscar providing the assist for the first goal of their game against Chile. Juan Mata was the only Chelsea player in the Spain squad, and it was his cross that the Equatorial Guinea keeper failed to control, allowing Santi Cazorla to fire Las Rojas in front.
Whilst their international performances will not have a direct bearing on their chances of selection for Chelsea, Jose Mourinho will want to capitalise on any improvements in his players' form.
The recurrence of Cole’s rib injury should allow Cesar Azpilicueta to keep his spot at left-back. There are few who would argue with his statement to the Mirror, when he said: “Every game that I have more minutes I feel better. Provided I can play and be useful to the team, I’d be delighted to stay on the left the whole season.”
Cahill has been Mourinho’s preferred partner for John Terry in the back four, but Luiz’s performances for Brazil could see him given another chance. Branislav Ivanovic will likely retain his place at right-back.
Lampard had an excellent 30-yard shot saved against Chile, however, he looked tired throughout the game. Despite this, he is likely to start against his boyhood club alongside Ramires.
Willian’s goal for Brazil should give him the edge over Hazard on the left of midfield, and with Oscar settled in the middle, it is a close call between Mata and Andre Schurrle as to who starts on the right. The Spaniard’s usefulness as an impact substitute could see Schurrle given the nod ahead of him at Upton Park.
Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres will battle it out for the starting striker spot. Torres was expected to have recovered from his muscle strain for this fixture, but with no update forthcoming at the time of writing, Eto’o will be given the chance to cause havoc with the Hammers' defence.
West Ham captain Mark Noble told the Daily Mail that they will have the advantage over Chelsea due to the number of Blues players involved in their national sides. However, with Sam Allardyce left to sweat on the fitness of Razvan Rat and Andy Carroll still recovering from his Achilles injury, Chelsea should be able to take all three points back across London.