The Blues will have had five whole days to recover after their 2-0 win over Derby County in the FA Cup when their Saturday lunchtime fixture kicks off, and Jose Mourinho will have welcomed a full week of training with his team.
Mark Schwarzer deputised in goal at Derby to give Petr Cech a rest, but Chelsea’s number one will return at Hull. Cech will become the Blues’ best ever goalkeeper in terms of clean sheets if Saturday’s game is a shutout, giving the Czech international an extra incentive to be at his best.
Of course, he will need his back four to help him out.
Cesar Azpilicueta and Ashley Cole should keep their places at full-back while Branislav Ivanovic is still injured. John Terry sat out the FA Cup match but should return at centre-half on Saturday to continue his run of playing every minute of Chelsea’s Premier League campaign so far this season (per goal.com.) Gary Cahill is due a rest, having featured in every fixture since mid-December, with David Luiz likely to replace him.
John Obi Mikel got his second goal of the season at Derby, surprising supporters as well as his manager. Mourinho told chelseafc.com:
I never recognise his ability to score goals! I recognise his ability to play as an anchorman, to play that position in a very comfortable way, with no mistakes. He reads the game well, plays in an intelligent and safe way, but I never recognise his goalscoring appetite. There was a smile on my face [when he scored]. For some reason Essien gave him the armband, normally it should go to Ashley Cole, so maybe it made him believe he was a goalscorer!
Oscar has gone from strength to strength under Mourinho at Chelsea, and he should start in the No. 10 role against Hull. Willian has fully adjusted to the pace and physicality of the Premier League with his performance against Liverpool in particular justifying his £32 million transfer fee. The two Brazilians will most likely be joined by Eden Hazard in the attacking trio.
Fernando Torres’ goal against Southampton may not have been the prettiest effort, but the awareness he showed to tap in the off-the-post rebound should give him the edge over Samuel Eto’o in the starting XI.
According to chelseafc.com (free subscription required for video content), Nathan Ake trained with the first team this week, having been the Blues’ breakthrough star of last season. The youngster has a good chance of joining the game from the bench, although his involvement will hinge on the how quickly the starting XI can secure the result.
The team are gelling better than the side that lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season, however, this Chelsea XI should be able to continue their excellent form further into 2014.