Even though we’re in a bad run at the moment and could do with more points, I think we have to accept that this is a “free game”. If we get anything from this, it’s an absolute bonus. If we lose, we just have to move on and focus on the next two home games.
The target for this game should be to come through it without any injuries or suspensions and to get some playing time to those on the fringes who we are going to need over the month of December. That’s more minutes for Aarons, Gayle, Mbemba, Mitro, etc. and if he’s ready perhaps getting Dummett back in. If all of the above get some playing time and we come through unscathed then I’d be happy with that, whatever the score.
We’ve already learnt from the past month that without a full team, who are match fit, we are going to struggle in games, but with everyone available we do have the quality to keep picking up points. There should be no line up for this one that shocks or upsets anyone because Rafa will have a plan to put in a respectable performance whilst achieving the above.
Without further ado then, Chelsea away. Ignoring the ridiculous Man City, Chelsea are the form team in the league with 6 wins in 7. Whilst they haven’t been blowing teams away like the Manchester clubs, the current champions have been quietly grinding away win after win following their poor start to the season. Alvaro Morata has stepped into Diego Costa’s shoes and hit some for in recent weeks. He’s now on 9 goals for the season.
Morata and Joselu came through the Real Madrid ranks together with similar goal scoring records in the lower leagues in Spain, both scoring around 1 in 2 for Real Madrid B. Whilst both are very different players, it’s incredible how their fortunes have differed since leaving Madrid looking at these stats. Morata continues to be a natural goal-scorer whist Joselu is something else entirely. Joselu was signed by Rafa because of his aerial ability, not because he thought he would score 20 goals this season. We have to remember that. We needed a different option to Gayle/Perez/Mitro, and Joselu was the best Rafa was allowed to spend on. He’s in the team as a target man and for all the criticism he’s been getting, he’s done his job reasonably well in most games.
Beyond Morata you don’t need me to tell you the quality that Chelsea have to choose from. Hazard, Pedro, Moses, Kanté and Willian are all fit and available. This is going to be a tough, tough game and Rafa will set us up to contain them as best we can. Defensively we’ve been excellent for 89 minutes of most games and the big test today is, even if we concede, can we make sure it’s not down to a stupid mistake. We’re well into the season now and we need to cut out the cheap goals from these momentary lapses that have ruined some very solid performances.
There’s not much more to say this week. We go again here and as I’ve said above we shouldn’t dwell too much on the result, unless we get a repeat of Papiss Cissé’s magic of 2012. The following two home games are the big ones, and 4-6 points is what we should be aiming for to take us comfortably into the Christmas period free of pressure.
A spirited 2-1 defeat with another goal for Gayle.
SIMON CAMPBELL – FOLLOW SIMON ON @SIMONCAMPBELL11
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