PL Preview: Birmingham v. Chelsea

Two defeats in three. Ravaged by injury. Questions surrounding upper management. Now is the time to display the champion mystique.

This man has laid the marker, emerging from the rubble to offer his services in spite of pain. Pay heed. And follow him into battle, boys.

alex2

The what: Premier League, Round 14 – Chelsea v. Birmingham
The where: St. Andrews (30,079)
The when: November 20, 3pm local time (10am EST)
The how: Fox Soccer Plus (DirecTV 621, Dish Network 149)
The why: See opening graph of this post. Further, we may be in second place before kickoff. We can have none of that.

The referee: Mark Halsey
Stat 1: Chelsea have gone an incredible 165 Premier League games since they lost consecutively.
Stat 2: Birmingham have failed to score in nine of their 12 league matches with Chelsea. They have scored four goals total in those meetings.

The above may be our stats for this match. However, of more pressing concern for CFC supporters:

Chelsea have lost three matches for the first time at this stage of the season for nearly a decade. Not since 2000-01 have we dropped three so early. How did that season end, you ask?  Well, we accumulated 11 losses - yes, 11 - and finished in sixth. Not to be all gloom and doom, but that's an interesting piece of information by my account.

Brum —
Position: 18 (13 points)
League Form: LWDDLD
Team: Carr, Murphy, Bowyer, Johnson, Ridgewell, Larsson, Gardner, Jerome, Ferguson, Doyle, Dann, Madera, Fahey, Zigic, Valles, Parnaby, Beausejour, O'Shea, Foster, Redmond, Jiranek, Phillips
Doubtful: Gardner (ankle), Jiranek (thigh), Murphy (hamstring), Taylor (shoulder)
Injured: McFadden (knee)
Suspended: None
Leading scorer: Gardner, Jerome, Ridgewell (3 each)
Quote: "What Sunderland did last week was fantastic. Chelsea are human and everyone from time to time can feel apprehension. We have to make sure Chelsea are leaving St Andrews saying it is a tough place to go. We are capable of playing to a level where the opposition feel that way." -Alex McLeish

CFC —
Position: 1 (28 points)
League Form: DWWLWL
Team: Cech, Turnbull, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Bruma, Bosingwa, Ferreira, Cole, Van Aanholt, Mikel, Ramires, McEachran, Malouda, Kalou, Kakuta, Drogba, Anelka, Sturridge, Borini
Doubtful: None
Injured: Zhirkov (calf), Terry (back), Lampard (groin), Benayoun (achilles)
Suspended: Essien (2 of 3)
Leading scorer: Malouda 7
Quote: "We want to forget Sunderland with a fantastic performance, we can play well and maintain the top of the table. The championship unfortunately does not finish tomorrow. If tomorrow was the last game then I think we would have a lot of possibility to win the title, but we have to play a lot of games again." -King Carlo

Yuri Zhirkov is unavailable. This is significant in that we will not have to grimace as a midfield three of Ramires-Mikel-Zhirkov is woefully overrun at St. Andrew's. Even more promising is the news that Carlo apparently will move Florent Malouda into the middle of the park. Thank you.

Still, you have to wonder if, with the injuries we have, changing the formation would be a proper option. A 4-2-3-1 seems interesting, with Ramires and Mikel in the holding roles and Malouda, Anelka and Kalou behind Drogba. Just a thought.

How about giving Danny Sturridge a run out?

Projected XI
Cech
Bosingwa-Bos-Alex-Cole
Ramires-Mikel-Flo
Anelka-Drogba-Kalou

Regardless of starting XI or formation, this side is strong enough to cope with Birmingham. We may not be in desperation mode, but a win right now is of the utmost priority. Back the boys. KTBFFH

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