Club Focus – Chelsea – League leaders prepare to welcome Wolves to Stamford Bridge fortress

Table-topping Chelsea will look to strengthen their advantage in the Premier League on Saturday as they welcome 19th-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers to Stamford Bridge. Victory over the struggling Midlands side would briefly give the Blues a five point advantage at the top of the table with nearest title rivals Manchester City facing third placed Arsenal on Sunday. Going into the weekend knowing one of their closest challengers will drop points should give Carlo Ancelotti’s men added incentive as they take on a Wolves side whom they have beaten in all of their four Premier League meetings in recent years.

A difficult start to the season which sees them languishing in the relegation zone combined with their previous two Premier League visits to West London will hardly fill Wolves fans with much confidence ahead of Saturday’s game. In March 2004, a 13-minute hat trick by substitute Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink turned a tied game on its head as Chelsea came from 2-1 down with 20 minutes to go as Claudio Ranieri’s side triumphed 5-2 towards the end of Roman Abramovich’s first season as Chelsea chairman. The Midlands club were relegated at the end of the season and finally returned to the top flight with promotion as 2008-09 Championship title winners. Last season, the hosts strolled to a 4-0 win over Mick McCarthy’s side as Florent Malouda, Michael Essien (2) and Joe Cole ensured three points for the Londoners.

Having maintained their 100 percent European record on Tuesday night with a 2-0 victory over Spartak Moscow in Russia, Chelsea’s return to domestic action has been boosted by the news they should be able to call upon Didier Drogba again after the Ivorian striker missed the last two games due to a virus. Should he play, he will enhance a Blues attack that misfired last weekend in a goalless affair with Aston Villa as they seek to improve their impressive home record this season; maximum points from four games and 14 goals without conceding in the capital. Furthermore, since losing 4-2 to Manchester City at the end of February last season, the Blues have rebuilt the fortress of Stamford Bridge in the Premier League with ten consecutive wins and 43 goals scored during a faultless period in front of their own fans.

For Chelsea, Frank Lampard misses out again, restricted by an adductor injury in the groin that has hampered his recovery from hernia surgery which has ruled the England international midfielder out since August. Assistant first-team coach Paul Clement told the official club website how anxious both player and club were for his return: “He’s very frustrated and can’t wait to get back,” Clement said. “We’ve missed him and we look forward to him returning.” Brazilian defender Alex has returned to training but will need additional time to be fully fit from a thigh injury sustained against Arsenal three weeks ago, but after coming through 75 minutes in Russia midweek, Salomon Kalou will be able to start should he be called upon by Ancelotti on Saturday.

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