tree Chelsea falls in the (Swiss) forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a noise?
I spent the better part of last week playing Batman in Gotham City - although without the whole capes and crime fighting business - battling the crowds, the weather, and the credit card limits as we experienced New York City shopping, dining, and touristing. It was a lovely break from the mundane everyday, the day-to-day grind of work, and the usual faces, places, interests.
On Tuesday, I spent an hour with Chelsea, sitting in front of some overpriced fish & bland chips and a couple pints of uninspiring ale - oddly appropriate for the bland and uninspiring product that played out on the widescreen TV at Legends NYC (upstairs). I checked the score some time later but I avoided any further non-vacation activities.
To me, Chelsea are still the Chelsea from last weekend: the 3-0 away to West Ham Chelsea, the Day of the 4-3-3 Chelsea. And I will not have it any other way. Even from the hour that I saw, it was clear that the players had about as much interest in playing on a freezing Tuesday night as I did in standing in line for two hours at dawn (wind chill: 4 °F) for some stupid Cronut. The 1-0 is a result best left forgotten, ignored, and erased from the record books just as the inconsequential ninety minutes that it truly turned out to be.
Yes, the individual performances should be looked at. We should expect changes tomorrow. But, really, we're fine. Everything's all good. November is over. Bring on the Saints!
Date/Time: Sunday, December 1, 2013, 16:00 GMT; 11am EST; 9:30pm IST
Venue/Location: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Forecast: Temperatures in the single digits, dry, with spots of sunshine - nothing outrageous
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports 4 & Star Sports HD 2 (India)
Chelsea squad news: The two notable, non-MvG injury casualties are Samuel Eto'o and his low-grade muscle strain and David Luiz and his on-again/off-again knee problems. Fernando Torres made his return midweek as Eto'o replacement and should be good to go.
With Arsenal making quick and easy work of Cardiff City on Saturday, it's imperative that Chelsea keep pace. While motivation shouldn't be an issue like perhaps it was on Tuesday, Mourinho probably won't leave that to chance and make a few appropriate changes. Bring out your
dead Juan Matas!
Southampton squad news: Pochettino and So'ton may be the darlings of the Premier League so far this season - with all their pressing and best-in-league defensive record - but they're actually on worse form than even Chelsea right now. They have not won away from home in the four matches since the end of September and have just three wins in their last six overall.
Lambert, Lallana, Lovren & Co certainly deserve all the praise they can get but, as Mourinho said, while Sunday's match will be difficult for us, it should be even more difficult for them. Especially if Lovren & Lallana fail to recover from illness and injury as expected. Promising left back Luke Shaw should also be available after suffering a dead leg at Arsenal. Ex-Chelsea youngster Jack Cork and ex-Chelsea transfer target Gastón Ramírez are back in training as well, but perhaps aren't quite fit to feature yet. Guly do Prado remains out with a knee injury.
View from the enemy: The only Saints with SBN representation are the New Orleans hand-egg kind. It's probably a good thing, too, since we'd have to be all nice and complimentary and friendly to them just like the two managers have been to each other in the prematch buildups.
Previously: This fixture last season was one of those classic 2-0 Chelsea collapses. At least we can rest assured that for better or worse, that won't happen again. Probably. What hopefully also won't happen is another loss like the last time these two met at the end of March. Before those two results, Chelsea had won five straight against the Saints and own a 36-29 edge in wins from the previous 91 meetings between the two clubs.