Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Kick-off: 2000 BST
Well, everyone keeps saying it’s our title to lose now after United’s dropped points against Blackburn at the weekend so let’s hope we don’t do just that in our game in hand against Bolton tonight.
In just three weeks, we’ve gone from being knocked out of the Champions League by Inter and dropping points ourselves to Blackburn to scoring 17 goals in four wins that has seen us claw our way back above United from 4 points adrift. A win could see that turned around even further to a 4 point lead at the top with just 4 games remaining although a defeat – given our remaining fixtures – could see us bugger it up completely.
Despite Fergie’s best efforts to put as much pressure on us as possible with his talk about United being more or less out of the race now given our opponents tonight, Carlo Ancelotti insists “I hope Alex is correct, but I haven’t played an easy game this season. No matches are easy, even if you go out and score a lot of goals in the game itself. It’s mind games. Ferguson is clever. On paper we are favourites against Bolton, but only on paper. It’s normal that Chelsea will win in theory, but we need to go out and achieve this. We don’t want to think about what might happen in a month. We have to wait, stay calm and focused. But if we are able to win (against Bolton), it could be a very important step towards winning the title.”
Owen Coyle meanwhile is far from convinced this’ll be as easy for us as some might think, stating “We accept going to Chelsea is the toughest challenge around at the moment but it is a game when there is three points available. The form they are in, as champions-elect after Manchester United dropped points at the weekend to hand them the incentive, it will certainly be difficult. But if we play to our best we can win any given game but we have to recognise we are playing a team with world-class players. We have to make sure we get to our best and if we do that we will have a chance. Everyone has written us off but I’ve been in that position before and gone to Chelsea and won, as I did with Burnley in the cup, and I can assure you it can be done. I’ll concentrate on what we can do and not what anyone else says.”
For us, Michael Essien (knee), Ashley Cole (ankle), Ricardo Carvalho (ankle) and Jose Bosingwa (knee) all remain injured although Branislav Ivanovic (knee) is expected to return. Michael Ballack and Salomon Kalou are expected to replace the rested Deco and Joe Cole.
For Bolton, Basham, J O’Brien (both knee), Davis, McCann (both ankle) and Holden (leg) all miss out although Mark Davies and Ricardo Gardner both return.
CHELSEA (from): Cech, Hilario, Turnbull, Kalou, Alex, Drogba, Malouda, Terry, Borini, Lampard, Mikel, Deco, Anelka, Zhirkov, J Cole, Belletti, Ballack, Kakuta, Sturridge, Ferreira, Bruma, Ivanovic.
BOLTON (from): Jaaskelainen, Knight, Ricketts, Cahill, Robinson, Muamba, Lee, Gardner, M Davies, Taylor, Wilshere, Cohen, K Davies, Elmander, Klasnic, Weiss, Al Habsi, Samuel, A O’Brien, Steinsson, Riga.
Bolton 0-4 Chelsea (31 October 2009)
Well, like everyone keeps saying, on paper this one should see a home win. We’re unbeaten in our last 12 against Bolton in the league and we’re scored 29 goals on our way to winning 7 of our last 8 home games. Bolton, on the other hand, have lost 4 of their last 5 games and have failed to score. Having said all that though, this is Chelsea, it is a must-win game, so just about anything could happen.