Speaking in his customary pre-match press conference, Andre Villas-Boas reneged on his previous concession that Chelsea are out of the title race, despite still being 11 points behind co-leaders Manchester United and Manchester City. What to the rest of us may look like more of a race for third (or even fourth, if Tottenham win their game-in-hand), looks slightly more positive to the manager:
"We were 12 points behind before and 11 is still a gap that can be shortened but you have to be competent in those games. We are looking to get into a run of good results which we haven't got yet, a good run of solid wins which can make a difference in the league. [...] We still have faith we can turn this around. Whatever it takes to win the league it depends on the form, and the clashes between the top clubs."
Other pertinent points coming at you in bullet form:
- The fee for Gary Cahill has been agreed, but personal terms are still "miles apart". Nothing's for certain, but it would surprise me greatly if the club were not able to offer satisfactory terms to the player, so this is just a minor diversion, I'm sure. AVB did confirm that Josh McEachran will NOT be going the other way (on loan) as part of a deal.
- We have not yet received any offers for Alex.
- We hope to sign Didier Drogba to a contract extension and we fully expect him to be a Chelsea player still after the Africa Cup of Nations. So no Drogba sale this January, which would've been pretty silly to begin with.
- Branislav Ivanovic, John Obi Mikel, and Michael Essien remain out. Essien is projected to be back "mid-January".
- Ramires will be back in the starting lineup following his suspension. The knocks picked up by John Terry and Jose Bosingwa in the Fulham game proved to be non-lasting, so they will both be back as well. Paulo Ferreira returns to his customary team-mascot/hair-model role.