Nicolas Anelka is out to solve Chelsea's paucity in front of goal. The £15m Frenchman starts the job today.
Anelka is expect to take part in the Blues' Premier League match with visiting Tottenham. Regardless of his participation, though, questions still surround Chelsea -- many of which could be answered today.
A small injury crisis is still looming over Stamford Bridge, as Super Frank, JT and Sheva remain injured. To complicate matters, Michael Essien, Obi-Wan, Salomon Kalouuu and Drogs have all departed for the African Nations Cup. Goalkeepers Carlo Cudicini and Petr Cech are fit, with Cech likely to re-assume his spot in between the pipes.
Anelka joined Chelsea??? Say word.
While Anelka will help alleviate the absence of Drogba, real problems face a midfield that now lacks the dynamic play of Essien and the versatility of Mikel. Steve Sidwell is the likely benefactor of the Bison's absence, and how he improves -- should not be difficult -- will be critical. Claude Makelele, legend, will most likely step into the role named after him, but the elder statesman has looked a shell of the player he once was. For the Blues to continue their title push, he must reemerge.
Tottenham must deal without the suspended Jermaine Jenas and Tom Huddlestone. Didier Zokora is on international duty at the ANC. Those absences should be less apparent than those of Chelsea, however, especially with the emergence of young Jamie O'Hara, who was excellent in Spurs' Carling Cup draw with Arsenal. Kevin Prince Boateng looks likely to find a place as well. Younes Kaboul is available following an ankle injury.
Spurs have quite an allotment up front with Count Berbatov, Robbie Keane and Jermaine Defoe all on form. Berbatov, subject to numerous transfer rumors, has quietly rediscovered his hunger under manager Juande Ramos and should be the focal point.
The last, and only, time Spurs have beaten us in the league.
Will Ramos instill a little tradition into the fixture and "park the bus in front of the goal"? Highly unlikely. Ramos has shown his affection for flair, and will no doubt throw players forward. We can only hope. With Ledley "made of glass" King their only viable defender, you can always bank on Spurs allowing 1, 2, even 6 goals. Just think if Paul Robinson actually returns to the team ... bonus!
Regardless of the humor, this could prove to be one of the most critical fixtures of the season for Chelsea. Trailing league leaders Arsenal by six points, and with the Gunners likely to record a win against Birmingham, the Blues must keep pace. Manchester United also has a fairly easy match on paper, at home against currently in disarray Newcastle. For Avram Grant, this match serves as a chance to truly prove his worth following an admirable but fairly insignificant period as Chelsea manager. Grant's coaching may finally come into play, something that has yet to surface in my mind.
As it stands, Spurs have only defeated Chelsea once, never at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have 12 wins and five draws in the last 17 home matches with Tottenham.