Chelsea’s first Premier League match of the 2014-15 season at Stamford Bridge will be against newly promoted Leicester City at 3 p.m BST on Saturday. The Foxes finished top of the Championship last season but will be wary of the fact that only one newly promoted team has left Stamford Bridge with a point in the last three years.
I was a bit afraid because I know my players are not in the top physical form ready to give the same kind of performance for 90 minutes, so we lost a little bit of attacking appetite, but the control of the game and of possession was always there. I think we clearly deserved these three points against a side that is going to give a fight to everyone that comes here.
Thibaut Courtois started his first competitive match for the Blues against Burnley on Monday, and Mourinho said after the game that he did enough to keep his place for the game against Leicester. The 22-year-old made a great save early in the second half and will be looking to put in a similarly controlled performance in his full home debut.
Cesar Azpilicueta resumed his position at left-back at Turf Moor but could make way for Filipe Luis at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Brazilian has been recalled to the national squad for the first time since the 2013 Confederations Cup and will want to make an impression before the international break.
Branislav Ivanovic’s goal sealed the win for the Blues at Burnley, and he will likely retain his right-back place for the first home game. John Terry and Gary Cahill should complete the back four.
Cesc Fabregas was involved in all three of Chelsea’s goals in their opening game, winning the man of the match award in the process. Mourinho was particularly impressed with the influence that the Spaniard had on Nemanja Matic, telling the official Chelsea website:
Him and Matic controlled the game and dictated the intensity of the game. They were choosing how to play – increase the pace, decrease the pace, play deeper, play with control…
He is giving exactly what we need: that stability, that quick-thinking in midfield, that right decision. He brings other people in the same direction – you could feel Matic was playing different from last season.
The two will likely resume their partnership on Saturday as Mourinho looks to cement the spine of his new team.
Eden Hazard made way for Didier Drogba after 83 minutes on Monday but should resume his starting position on Saturday. The winger was particularly impressed with Diego Costa after the game, telling the official website, “Diego can score, and that is good for me, now I can concentrate on making passes for him.”
Oscar is likely to get another start in the No. 10 role, but he will have to make more of an impact if he is to avoid losing his place. Much of the work the Brazilian does is off the ball, but Fabregas’ arrival has meant that there is less pressure on him.
If Oscar can forge a partnership with Fabregas and learn from him how to play in both the No. 10 role and as a deep-lying playmaker, he will stand a much better chance of keeping his spot in the starting XI. However, another quiet performance could see him make way for Willian, with Hazard moving across to the central role.
Andre Schurrle’s goal on Monday was the pick of the bunch as he finished off a move that had taken 25 passes to build. Currently riding high on a wave of confidence after his World Cup winning exploits this summer, Schurrle is showing signs of being one of Mourinho’s untouchables for the 2014-15 season.
Although Costa picked up a booking instead of a penalty at Burnley, he will make his full home debut against Leicester on Saturday. Doubts over the striker’s ability to settle into the Premier League have been quickly banished, and he is likely to grab a goal.
If the three points are all but in the bag late in the game, expect Drogba to be introduced as a late substitute to a rapturous reception from the Chelsea supporters.
Leicester have a tough start to their first top-flight season since 2003-04. Although they held Everton to a 2-2 draw last week, they will face Arsenal, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Manchester United as well as Chelsea, in their opening six fixtures.
Despite losing his first-ever home Premier League match last season, Mourinho’s record is still exceptional. With a 70 percent overall win rate, it is difficult to see him do anything other than add to that this Saturday.