KC Stadium, England
Sunday, 22 March 2015, 1600 GMT
Chelsea make the 186-mile northward journey to the county of East Riding of Yorkshire to take on Hull City AFC at their home since 2003, the KC Stadium.
The Blues have hit a sort of a dip in form lately with draws against Burnley and Southampton and a Champions League ouster at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain. However, they still sit pretty at the top of the table with a six-point difference between them and Manchester City, with the side from London having played a game less. Jose Mourinho has a habit of winning titles and his experience in the Premier League make Chelsea odds-on favourites to lift the title.
The home side have had a mini-recovery after their humiliating 3-0 defeat to Newcastle at home. They have since picked up 9 points in the 6 matches they have played but still sit dangerously close to the relegation zone. Although the visitors have the upper hand as far as history is concerned, Hull City will be counting on the KC faithful to sing their way to victory.
Team news and tactics
Steve Bruce has a lot of injury and suspension worries to contend with. Mohamed Diame, Liam Rosenior, James Chester and Robbie Brady are all ruled out of the match. Tom Huddlestone will serve the first of his two match suspension for the red card against Leicester City. Another big blow for the team is the news that Nikica Jelavic may be sidelined for more than six weeks with a knee injury. However, one piece of good news could come in the form on Abel Hernandez who could be fit enough to start up-front.
Like they have been doing all season long, Hull City will line up in a 3-5-2 formation with Michael Dawson, Alex Bruce and Paul McShane forming the three at the back.Ahmed Elmohomady and Andy Robertson will assume the role of wing-backs. The defence will have their work cut out handling the like of Eden Hazard and Willian who switch wings quite regularly during a match. Given that might happen, Elmohomady and Robertson might just concentrate more on their defensive duties this time around.
The returning Hernandez will partner in-form Dame Na Doye as the focal point in attack as they look to take on the likes of John Terry and Gary Cahill in Chelseaa s defence.
Possible lineup (3-5-2): McGregor (GK), McShane, Dawson, Bruce; Robertson, Meyler, Livermore, Ramirez, Elmohomady; N’Doye, Hernandez
On the other hand, Mourinho has no injury worries to contend with except that of John Obi Mikel who is out again with a knee injury. No players suspended for this one either. However, what is worth noting is that both Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa and one and two matches away respectively from a two-game suspension for 10 yellow cards.
Chelsea will lineup in their now traditional 4-2-3-1 formation with Nemanja Matic and Fabregas sitting in front of the back four. There were some rumours doing the rounds that Oscar might be dropped to the bench for this one but Mourinho does not tend to rotate his team too much. The Brazilian has not hit the straps recently and with a ready replacement in Juan Cuadrado available, he is surely looking over his shoulder. Costa is expected to lead the line with Hazard and Willian supporting him on the wings.
In the pre-match press conference, Mourinho stressed a lot on his youth players coming through. An indication, perhaps, that some of the under-21s might be given a chance. Of all the names being thrown around, we would not be surprised to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek being given some game time. Keep watching this space.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois (GK), Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Matic, Fabregas; Oscar, Hazard, Willian; Costa
Player to watch out for
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
The diminutive Belgian can run riot on any defence on any given day and Hull will be wary of that fact. He has not been among the goals recently and will be hungry to get some against his name. The full-backs of Hull will have their work cut out.
- The last three times these sides have met, Chelsea have won all of them by a scoreline of 2-0.
- Chelsea have conceded only two goals against Hull in their previous seven Premier League matches.
- Hull City have conceded just three goals in their last five League matches.
- The Tigers have not beaten a top-10 side yet this season, picking up just five points off them.
Hull City 0 a 2 Chelsea
With what seems to be Chelseaa s favourite scoreline when it comes to matches against Hull, this time around too the Blues should run out winners. They have too much at stake and know the importance of picking up these three points.
Blast from the past
In this week’s blast from the past, we look at Mourinho’s first game back as Chelsea manager on the opening day of the 2013/14 season against Hull City