After a successful pre-season, Chelsea got off to an uncharacteristic start to the campaign. The Blues held the record for best starts in the Premier League, but to the frustration of the travelling support had to settle for a point at the Hawthorns. To make matters worse, fans had to watch title rivals Manchester United take an early lead in the points table. Despite being early in the campaign the importance of a good start has proven to do wonders for a team’s chances of winning the league.
This will be Chelsea’s first game at home, and the manager will be expected to register a big win. The Blues were unfortunate to be denied a penalty in the game against Stoke City, and in the aftermath of it all, Tony Pulis managed to take a swipe at Villas-Boas. The Stoke manager blasted the 33-year-old, who objected to the constant shoving and pulling by Stoke defenders, telling him to man up to the nature of the Premier League, but stressed there was no problem between the two bosses, claiming the comments from his Chelsea counterpart were blow out of proportion. The scenario will only make Villas-Boas’ response on the pitch all the more important this Saturday.
It will be interesting to see if the Portuguese manager makes any changes to the team which was held by Stoke last weekend. John Obi Mikel has made himself available for the game despite the abduction of his father last week. In attack, Salomon Kalou would stand the highest chance of being left out following his poor performance. The Ivorian was guilty of giving the ball away all too easily, and failed to credit the manager’s trust in giving him a starting place.
Nicolas Anelka came on to play an impressive cameo and almost scored, which could earn the Frenchman a starting place, this week. Josh McEachran would be most likely to take over from Mikel if the Nigerian does not feature.
The last time these two sides locked horns at Stamford Bridge it ended with a 6-0 win for the home side, and it would definitely send a strong message if Villas-Boas could somehow manage a repeat of that performance.