Club Focus – Chelsea – Anelka to thrive with the return of Cole

The headlines will be singing the praises of returning midfielder Joe Cole this week as the magician dazzled in the League Cup. The Blues secured a 1-0 victory over their Championship-based London rivals QPR- a Salomon Kalou goal was the difference after a well-placed assist from Cole. Returns for injury-ridden pair Paulo Ferreira and Yury Zhirkov were also in order, as they made up the back four alongside youth product Sam Hutchinson and Branislav Ivanovic. Fabio Borini was granted a start after a substitute appearance against Spurs and the teenager will be disappointed to have diverted a testing Zhirkov delivery off target. Frank Lampard was called upon at the interval to give Chelsea the fire power they at times appeared to be lacking. However the score line mirrored that of last season’s clash as the one goal proved strong enough.

After a confident performance in their Super Sunday showdown, Chelsea will have discouraged many opponents from opting out of a defensive stance. A Spurs theory of attacking football was quickly shut down and so may have disheartened future opposition from following suit. Tottenham attempted to attack the Blues although this meant for an open game which suited Chelsea and allowed them to unpick the north Londoners in a 3-0 victory. This week Ancelotti’s men travel north where they face Wigan, a tie which in the past has proved troublesome as a 90th minute Emile Heskey strike rescued a point for the Latics last season. This week Chelsea is without on fire striker Didier Drogba and it looks as though fellow Ivorian Salomon Kalou will be his replacement after a midweek goal. It is probably too soon for Daniel Sturridge to get the nod, Borini may however be in contention.

Wigan have no real injury worries heading into this weekend’s fixture with Olivier Kapo there only notable absentee. Chelsea subsequently may struggle to reinstate the firepower up top as Drogba is hindered by a calf problem. Ray Wilkins insists the injury is minor and the striker will be fighting for a return as he left the game on Sunday with a bad case of cramp. Nicolas Anelka is however always capable of finding a goal and will look to prove critics wrong as a competent replacement for Drogba when he leaves for the African Cup of Nations. Frank Lampard may be withdrawn to a deeper role hoping this will rejuvenate his goal-scoring form so prominent in recent campaigns. Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa will look to penetrate a Wigan defence of which noticeably lacks pace, with Titus Bramble and former Chelsea right-back Mario Melchiot.

Wigan were on the receiving end of a drubbing at the hands of Arsenal last week, but without the worries of a Carling Cup tie in midweek, they will have looked to put this result behind them. Roberto Martinez’s side were incapable of dealing with Arsenal’s free flowing football and their high tempo game. Wigan lack the bite they utilised last season after losing Lee Cattermole – a natural ball-winner in midfield – and the powerful presence of Emile Heskey up front. The Latics may struggle to cause the Blues too many problems, although Hugo Rodellaga will head the attack with two goals to his name this season, an achievement matched surprisingly by the Chelsea left-back.

A possible start for Joe Cole could see Chelsea’s formation flourish as they at times could be criticised of lacking midfield creativity, often taking an alternate route direct to Drogba or looking to the wing-backs to provide the cutting-edge deliveries. Cole often looks for an intricate ball turning the opposition defence to face their own goal – this sort of midfield maestro will no doubt aid the game of Nicolas Anelka who feeds on balls in behind the last defender. Therefore Anelka’s impact in this game could prove decisive whether Didier returns to the starting line up or whether injury does rule the big African out all together. Ancelotti will play against a rather inexperienced and youthful manager this weekend and will look to break down this naivety in what could be another big win for the Blues.

Wigan have accumulated six points from six games and are unlikely to restrict Chelsea from finding the net – the Blues will be hopeful and expectant of picking up maximum points and continuing their well publicised 100% record. Rivals Manchester United and Liverpool positioned second and third are likely victors of their own this week as they face last season’s promoted sides and so should keep pressure on Chelsea.

Chelsea Club Focus

Terry commits future to positive Blues set-up – July 29
Reading ask all the questions of Chelsea – August 5
Chelsea start as they mean to go on – August 12
Patience is a virtue – August 18
Christmas comes early for the Blues – August 21
Chelsea maintain 100% record – August 25
Blues to cruise over Burnley pot-hole – August 28
Cole-scoring prowess – September 1
Blues stunned by transfer ban – September 4
Ban dilemma for Blues – September 8
Blues look to bounce back from ban – September 11 Perfect start continues, just – September 15
Blues aim to follow in United’s footsteps – September 18
Ancelotti magic continues – September 22
Anelka to thrive with the return of Cole – September 25

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