John Terry has travelled with the Chelsea for their Europa League tie with Sparta Prague tomorrow evening. Terry missed the weekend’s match with Wigan due to injury, but could feature tomorrow. David Luiz misses out through suspension, whilst Demba Ba is ineligible due to his participation in the tournament with Newcastle earlier in the season. John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses have also not travelled, having only recently returned from Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations victory.
Chelsea’s assistant coach Boudewijn Zenden is worried that Sparta Parague will have an advantage over Chelsea due to their recent winter break. The Czech side haven’t played since December 6, a period during which Chelsea have played 18 games:
“They’ve been in a winter break, so they had a month to prepare for this game. They will be up for it and be ready physically.”
Chelsea Czech keeper Peter Cech is also concerned that Sparta’s players will be keen to impress in a huge game for the club:
"For them, it will be the biggest game of their careers, so that's a danger.”
Another Chelsea player who has spoken about the tie is Brazilian midfielder Oscar, who has said the hopes a Europa League win can boost the whole campaign, and that all of the squad are motivated to win the tournament.
Steven Reid is hoping that West Brom will be able to keep hold of Romelu Lukaku next season. The 19 year old Belgian has impressed whilst on loan at the Hawthorns, scoring ten league goals, and Reid believes Chelsea might allow him to continue his development at the Hawthorns next year if they have enough cover in their attack.
Although Rafa Benitez has taken plenty of stick recently, on HITC today Dan Coombs points out that Chelsea’s form over the past six games is only bettered by two other sides in the Premier League.
Also on HITC today we look at how the recent reports about Lazar Markovic’s visits to Chelsea bear a resemblance to the quotes that came from Taison’s camp shortly before the young Brazilian moved to Shakhtar Donetsk.
There has been speculation that Barcelona are preparing a summer bid for David Luiz, and might make the defender their number one target. Chelsea signed the defender for £21 million on transfer deadline day in January 2011.
Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon has said he is enjoying his time at Malaga, and that he feels less pressure at the Spanish club. Piazon has so far made two appearances from the bench for Malaga.
image: © Piotr Drabik