Chelsea will once again be without David Luiz and Petr Cech for their Wednesday night trip to Reading, as both have failed to recover from their injuries in time for the match. Ross Turnbull will continue in goal, whilst John Terry’s return to the starting line-up at the weekend gives Benitez another option in defence. Eden Hazard serves the second of his minimum three match ban.
Reading will be without Jason Roberts, whilst Noel Hunt is also a doubt. The Royals’ new signing Daniel Carrico is reportedly unlikely to make his debut in the match. Reading go into the match in decent form, having have won their past two league matches, at home to West Brom and away at Newcastle, with those wins contributing to a four match winning streak.
Despite the draw with Brentford at the weekend, Reading manager Brian McDermott is well aware of Chelsea’s excellent recent away record, with the Blues racking up 23 goals on the road in the past couple of months.
John Terry has said his team-mates need to raise their game to ensure Champions League football next season. Chelsea have been lacklustre in recent FA and Capital One Cup matches, and Terry is anxious that form doesn’t scupper their top four position.
"We need to liven up a bit and realise the importance to the fans and the club. Champions League football is a must next season.”
Chelsea fans have continued to voice their discontent at Benitez’s appointment at the club, and a petition for him to be sacked has received over 2000 signatures.
Chelsea are rumoured to be readying an offer for Birmingham keeper Jack Butland, who is reportedly available at a cut price £3.5 million due to his clubs poor financial situation. Several other Premiership sides are also allegedly monitoring the keeper.
Despite the reports that Chelsea are looking to bid for Butland, Rafa Benitez has said that he doesn’t think there will be any more signings this January, although the Chelsea manager is rumoured to have asked for new players as his side struggle to compete on several fronts.
One player they won’t be signing is Isco, who has signed a new contract at Malaga. On HITC today, we ask whether this could encourage Chelsea to step up their interest in Shakhtar player Willian.
At the African Cup of Nations, Victor Moses scored a brace of penalties as Nigeria beat Ethiopia 2-0 to book their place in the knockout stages of the competition.
image: © crystian cruz