Injury Update: Ricardo Carvalho

Ricardo Carvalho has been one of Chelsea’s most consistent performers over the past couple of seasons and without a doubt our best defender last campaign. So it’s no surprise he’s been a huge miss this season.

The Chelsea defender had a spell out following injury against Manchester United and no sooner had he got back on the pitch and he was out again after a hamstring went on him against Hull. That was at the end of October and although he was only meant to be out for three weeks, he still hasn’t returned.

However, yesterday brought some good news at last, with Scolari stating “The doctor told me today he would be back in 14 days.”

So, that’s him pencilled in for our trip to Everton on 22 December.

Tevez Questioning Chelsea’s Staying Power?

Sir Alex Ferguson gave the press boys something to get themselves off over when he wondered at the start of the season what else Chelsea’s experienced players had to give this campaign. Obviously, that was translated by the press into Chelsea being a load of old pensioners (no pun intended) who were well past their sell-by dates.

More recently, with too many jaded performances creeping in before the busy Christmas period, even I’ve started to wonder whether Fergie might have been right from the start. And now, Manchester United’s Carlos Tevez is providing the press with the latest headlines to wank over as they again inform the world Chelsea are being labelled as ‘past it’.

With regards to Chelsea’s ability to sustain a challenge over the busy festive period, Tevez says “I think they are a great team. But I also think that as it is for me, at 24 years of age, it is sometimes very hard to recover and play Sunday and Wednesday.  I would imagine that for some of the Chelsea guys that are much older it would be even harder.  I think that the intensive Christmas schedule will take its toll on them because they have some great players but not so much strength in depth.”

Unfortunately though, given Chelsea’s recent form and the prospect of facing four games in a two week period, starting December 14, Tevez might actually have a point.

Bolton vs CHELSEA: Preview

 

 

 

Chelsea travel to the Reebok to take on Bolton this afternoon, with the chance of setting a new top-flight record of 11 consecutive away wins. Chelsea remain the only unbeaten club away from home in the Premier League although they’re without a win in two whilst Bolton have won their last couple of games.

In fact, having started last month in the relegation places, Bolton went on a bit of a run, beating City, Hull, Boro and Sunderland, although slipped up against the Scousers.

Of this fixture and Bolton’s recent form, assistant manager Chris Evans says “Obviously most of the games they play they are regarded as the favourites and I don’t think that will be any different this weekend.  But we are having a good run of form and apart from results, we are playing very well. Even when results weren’t going well for us we felt we were putting a good shift in.  Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve but, if you have the belief, then results will turn and that’s exactly what’s happened to us. Confidence is a big thing in any sport but since the beginning of the season there has been a terrific camaraderie at the club. That’s not something that’s just happened and it’s not false – the players get on well together here and the manager goes to great lengths to foster that.  The one thing we do have is a terrific spirit, a great togetherness and, if you have that, you can align it with ability and you have the ingredients for success.”

On team news, it looks as if Gary Megson has a full strength squad to choose from. Chelsea meanwhile are without Didier Drogba who continues to serve his 3 match ban and could also be without Joe Cole (ankle).  Ricardo Carvalho (knee), Franco Di Santo (hamstring), Juliano Belletti (ankle) and Michael Essien (knee) all remain out.

 

KEY PLAYERS

BOLTON

Johan Elmander – Bolton are scoring goals and although he might not have justified his £8.2million price tag initially, the Swedish striker is starting to look worth the money. The 27 year old, who bagged a couple against Sunderland, is expected to lead the Bolton and could be a real threat to Cech’s goal.

CHELSEA

Nicolas Anelka – again facing another former club, Chelsea will be relying heavily on Nicolas Anelka for goals. With Drogba out and Joe Cole’s run-ins from the wing not an option either, we’ll be looking for Anelka to make his attacking pace count.

 

CLUB FORM

BOLTON

Bolton have won four of their last five games in the league although have lost their last four at home against sides in the current top four. In fact, from the last 24 points available against the ‘Big Four’, Bolton have managed only one point – albeit against Chelsea. Bolton go into this game 9th in the Premier League.

CHELSEA

Chelsea are on the longest unbeaten away run in the Premier League, winning 15 and drawing 2 since December 2007. They’ve won all seven away so far this season although have lost a couple at home so far. Chelsea have won 10 of the 15 games under Luiz Felipe Scolari although a loss today would be their 100th away from home in the Premier League. Chelsea go into this game in 2nd place.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

Chelsea are unbeaten in 9 against Bolton in the Premier League (won 6, drawn 3). The last time Bolton took all three points off Chelsea was some eleven years ago and they haven’t scored against us on home soil for the past 6 years either. Not ideal news for them considering Chelsea are the highest scorers in the Premier League although the Reebok has seen fewer top-flight goals than any other ground so far this campaign.

Home and Away

League (inc PL): Bolton 34 wins, Chelsea 39 wins, Draws 27

Prem: Bolton 3 wins, Chelsea 10 wins, Draws 5

At Bolton Only

League (inc PL): Bolton 22 wins, Chelsea 14 wins, Draws 14

Prem: Bolton 2 wins, Chelsea 5 wins, Draws 2

 

LAST SEASON

Bolton 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea Scorer: Kalou 41

7 October 2007 – Ref: Alan Wiley

 

PREDICTION

Chelsea might well start this one as favourites given their away form although the Trotters are in better form at home, although bearing in mind this game is between a Bolton side who’ve failed in their last seven attempts to score against a Chelsea side who’ve managed 10 clean sheets, I won’t be anticipating a goal-fest.

 

TEAMS

BOLTON (from): Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, A O’Brien, Samuel, Nolan, Riga, McCann, Muamba, Gardner, Taylor, Davies, Elmander, Al Habsi, Shittu, Smolarek, Basham, Cohen, Fojut

CHELSEA (from): Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Bosingwa, Ferreira, Alex, Terry, Ivanovic, Bridge, A Cole, Lampard, Deco, Ballack, Mikel, Kalou, Malouda, Anelka, Sinclair, Stoch

 

REFEREE

Howard Webb (Yorkshire)

Are The FA Doing Chelsea Favours?

The FA don’t do much to help us when it comes to winning friends and influencing people do they?

I mean what sort of decision was that yesterday?

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of supporters laughing their arses off while the back-slapping is still no doubt ringing around the boardroom, but has such a one-sided verdict really done Chelsea as many favours as they think?

The FA Regulatory Committee’s verdict on the ‘Battle at the Bridge’ found both Patrice Evra and Chelsea guilty as charged and yet Evra comes out of it with a 4 game ban and a £15,000 fine whilst Chelsea end up with a fine of just £10,000 more. Because that’ll really hurt them, right?

Now I’m sure I won’t be the only one to suggest the outcome weighs heavily in Chelsea’s favour. But I suppose the question is why would a Chelsea supporter be bothered about that? Well, I suppose because I never really trusted Bethell’s version of events in the first place. As I previously suggested, it was obvious he was deliberately winding up the opposition before the fighting broke out and rather than deal with an employee bringing embarrassment on the club, Chelsea decided to support him. So is this really their idea of good PR or did they have another motive for it?

As far as I can see, they did. You see, there were racist undertones and clearly no club would want to be associated with anything quite so distasteful. So Chelsea, in their wisdom decided that a full show of support would somehow prove nothing out of order was said – after all, they wouldn’t dream of having that sort of thing at the club would they? Or at least I think that was their general idea.

However, like I said at the time, I think this was a pretty misguided attempt to distance themselves from any allegations of racism. And yet surely a more appropriate way to deal with the whole sorry mess would’ve been to distance themselves from Bethell himself? After all, his conduct was definitely a sackable offence anyway? Surely that would’ve shown that they genuinely find this sort of thing unacceptable? Because from where I’m sitting, irrespective of the why’s and wherefores, top clubs just wouldn’t have employees thinking it’s ok to throw their weight around and gob off at visiting players.

As it is, because Chelsea couldn’t even get their act together over a groundsman’s contract (something they were found guilty of although not penalised for), Bethell has walked away from the whole thing.

And as for Chelsea’s reputation – well, the players have been accused of thinking they’re above the law before, not least of all after John Terry’s red card was rescinded this season – will the FA’s disparity in punishment’s yesterday have helped on that score?

I severely doubt it and so we can count on a backlash.