Stamford Bridge, London
October 23, 2010, 7:25 PM IST

Chelsea take on Wolves at Stamford Bridge on this Saturday. After an anonymous goal-less stalemate at Villa Park, Chelsea redeemed their appetite for scoring goals in the midweek European fixture against Spartak Moscow. Last season, in the game at Villa Park Chelsea capitulated despite taking an early lead. Carlo Ancelotti would be relieved that the team has earned a point this time around.

The nil-nil scoreline against Aston Villa was the first of its kind in 27 matches for Chelsea. They have already scored 14 goals from four games at Stamford Bridge thus far. Incidentally, Chelsea have collected maximum points in as many as 14 of their last 15 encounters in front of their home crowd. To make matters even more difficult for the visitors, Chelsea have not conceded a goal in the last 691 minutes at Stamford Bridge. With the kind of form Chelsea are in, another rout is on the cards.

Ancelotti knows that this is a very important game for Chelsea in the context of the Premier League standings. Manchester City, who are currently in second place with two points adrift off Chelsea, will host the Gunners at Eastlands. Full three points from the match against Wolves might create pressure on Manchester City, who will have to go for a win against Arsenal to keep up with Chelsea.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion, Premier League 14/08/2010 Florent Malouda of Chelsea celebrates his 1st goal with Didier Drogba, John Obi, Nicolas Anelka & Ashley Cole of Chelsea Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Can the Blue Brigade march on?

Mick McCarthy’s team are currently placed at 18th place, with only 6 points in 8 games. His team has not been playing well in recent times, with the only victory coming in the very first game of the season. They have lost four of their last five Premier League outings. Wolves’ recent Premier League away record has been pretty dismal. They have won only 4 out of their 42 Premier League away games and have not won any in the last 7 outings. Wolves faced Chelsea 4 times in the Premier League. They have lost on all the four occasions, conceding 16 times.

Team News

Didier Drogba is expected to return for The Blues in this game, after a viral fever kept the Ivorian out of action during Chelsea’s last two games.

Lampard has been ruled out of the match with a niggling groin injury. Alex is still out with a thigh injury. Benayoun is also out with an achilles problem.

Ramires missed out the midweek fixture due to a minor problem. He is expected to be out for this clash as well. With Drogba coming back from injury, Chelsea will have more options upfront. Even Kalou had made his return in the midweek game in Russia.

In the absence of Alex, Ivanovic will continue to partner Terry in the centre of defence. Ancelotti has declared that Bosingwa is likely to start for the Blues after more than a year. Kakuta, McEachran and Van Aanholt will be ready in the dugout waiting for an opportunity to impress the home fans.

Chelsea Starting Line-up: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Essien, Zhirkov, Malouda, Anelka and Drogba.

Football Fans Know Better

McCarthy has had serious injury concerns as well. Defender Ronald Zuber is not travelling to Stamford Bridge. He has missed most part of the campaign so far with various leg injuries. Veteran defender Jody Craddock has also been ruled out due to a hip injury. Skipper Karl Henry has been suspended. Michael Mancienne is also ineligible to play in this match as his loan clause does not permit him to play against his parent club.

Good news for them is that Stephen Hunt is poised to make a comeback after a long term foot injury. David Davis has also been recalled from his loan spell at Walsall to provide cover in the midfield.

Wolves Starting Line-up: Hahnemann, Van Damme, Stearman, Berra, Foley, Jarvis, Edwards, Jones, Ward, Fletcher, Doyle.


Didier Drogba(Chelsea FC)

The powerful Ivorian missed the last two games of the season through a viral fever. Drogba would be eager to get on the field. In his absence Anelka was made to play in the lone striker’s role. The Frenchman responded with a neat goal against Spartak Moscow in the midweek fixture. Drogba has already scored six times in seven games for Chelsea in this season. With Wolves’ defensive unit in tatters through injury, Drogba et al are expected to run amok around the visitors’ defensive third.

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The ironman is back for Chelsea!

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Chelsea 4-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

With the return of Drogba, Chelsea will try to regain the momentum they lost following the goalless draw at Villa Park. The kind of declivity Wolves are going through, it would be difficult to anticipate anything less than a victory for the men in blue.