A round-up of news and views relating to Chelsea over the past 24 hours.
Blues defender Gary Cahill has shaken off his injury and is in contention for the match against Fulham on Wednesday night. Benitez will now to have to decide if Cahill will return to the first team after an impressive performance from Chelsea’s back four against Manchester City. In other team news, Frank Lampard, Daniel Sturridge and John Terry are all still out injured.
In other team news there are some reports that Benitez may drop John Obi Mikel in an attempt to boost the creativity of his midfield. Benitez is keen to provide more chances going forward, and Oriol Romeu may be brought in as a more expansive player than Mikel.
Benitez also stated that he believed Fernando Torres can return to his best form at Chelsea. One of the reasons the manager is keen to get more creativity into midfield is that he believes a lack of service is part of the reason for Torres’ lack of goals.
Fulham will be without several key players for the match, with their captain Brede Hangeland serving the second game of his three match ban. Bryan Ruiz and Alex Kacaniklic and Keiran Richardson are all still injured for Martin Jol’s side.
Rafa Benitez today addressed the issue of the hostility shown towards him by Chelsea fans, but ignored calls for an apology for the comments he made about Chelsea whilst Liverpool manager saying:
“The problem is we can analyse what I said and didn’t say . . . we can’t be checking if it’s true or not. I’ll try my best to win their trust. That’s it.”
Martin Jol has added to the pressure on the Chelsea boss by saying tomorrow is a must win match for Chelsea and Benitez and particular. Chelsea are on a five game winless run in the league, and Jol knows that Benitez is under pressure to win over the fans at Stamford Bridge:
“In a way, it is a must-win game for them. They have to have a result, otherwise it could be problematic. Benitez was at Liverpool, a big club, and he did say a few things about Chelsea.”
Whilst Jol may view it as must win game for Chelsea, Fulham are also in need of three points, having gone five games without a victory themselves, having lost their last two matches against Sunderland and Stoke.
Chelsea have issued a statement relating to the Clattenburg affair, in which they say they regret “not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of Sunday 28th October.” The statement was issued in conjunction with the PGMO.
On loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku is at the center of another race row that has broken out In the Premier League. With photos appearing no social networks that allegedly show a Sunderland fan making a monkey gesture at the striker during their match at home to West Brom on Saturday.
In transfer news, reports have emerged suggesting Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are both monitoring American striker Jozy Altidore. The 23 year old had disappointing spells at Hull amongst other clubs, but has been in excellent form for his current team AZ Alkmaar.
image: © Ben Sutherland