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PL Preview: Chelsea v. Blackpool

The what: Premier League, Round 5 – Chelsea v. Blackpool
The where: Stamford Bridge (41,841)
The when: September 19, 4pm local time (11am EST)
The how: Fox Soccer Channel (DirecTV 619, Dish Network 149)
The why: Because we're at home. Against a promoted side. And the potential for our chief rivals to drop points - Darren Bent has already done us a favor against the Arsenal - is high. We must take advantage, and continue our superb start to the season.
The referee: Peter Walton

mike-stay puft face
Mikel has his Stay Puft face on for the visit of Blackpool.

The stat: Chelsea have won their first four league games on three previous occasions. The Blues have won the title each time. Need more incentive?
The punt: The Mighty Drogba should be fresh following his absence for the midweek Champions League tie in Slovakia. Take a chance on the large Ivorian opening the scoring Sunday.
The liveblog:


Blackpool —
Position: 4 (7 points)
League Form: WLDW
Team: Gilks, Carney, Keinan, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Baptiste, Vaughan, Adam, Grandin, Harewood, Varney, Taylor-Fletcher, Ormerod, Campbell, Eardley, Halstead, Basham, Euell, Sylvestre, Demontagnac, Coid, Husband, Phillips, Southern, Edwards.
Doubtful: Baptiste (hand)
Injured: Rachubka (knee), Almond (shoulder), Clarke (knee)
Suspended: None
Leading scorer: Harewood 2
Quote: "We've got to go there, do what we do, see if we can impose our game on them, lots of people haven't been able to do that. My lads will have to get a lot closer to them, a lot tighter to them and not concede too much ground. I'm respectful of everyone but fearful of no one." -Ian Holloway

Blackpool. Ian Holloway. The first word that pops into my head off those two nuggets? Likable. No one - at least no one in the EPL Offside preseason prediction round table - gave Holloway's promoted side even a long-distance shout of staying in the Premier League come May. What do we know? The club currently sits fourth (before Saturday's games) on seven points.

A comfortable 2-0 win away to Newcastle last weekend gave them six points out of nine on the road. That's the second best away mark in the league so far. Top of that list? Chelsea, of course. The one loss, however, was a hefty one, six goals to none at the Emirates. Perhaps a similar outcome is in their future at a much more formidable house of football, that of the one located on Fulham Road.

That's far from a slight against Blackpool, however. No sir. This side has some quality. Charlie Adam is an influential midfielder, so much so that our very own Frank Lampard is a fan of the Blackpool captain. Marlon Harewood has emerged from the depths (can you believe it?). DJ Campbell and Luke Varney are hardly wow purchases, but certainly represent astute buys at a club where financially stability takes priority - a commendable stance in a time of excess.

Harewood, Keith Southern and Gary Taylor-Fletcher have all returned to fitness, leaving Holloway a semi-selection headache. I doubt he'll mind. I also doubt he'll stray much from last week's first team.

Position: 1 (12 points)
League Form: WWWW
Team: Cech, Tunbull, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Cole, Van Aanholt, Zhirkov, Kakuta, Essien, Benayoun, Ramires, Mikel, Malouda, Drogba, Kalou, Anelka, Sturridge, Borini.
Doubtful: Lampard (groin)
Injured: Bosingwa (fitness), Bruma (hernia)
Suspended: None
Leading scorer: Drogba, Malouda 4
Quote: "Before training I gave my players my book and told them they're not involved in this book because there's only one chapter on Chelsea. I told them I'd like them to be involved a lot more in the next book. I don't know if they're better than the team I had in Milan, although I've never been in charge of a team that has scored so many goals. They know the first year here was very good but it is the future that counts. I said to them 'Let's continue the success.'" -Carlo Ancelotti

Song of the week: Gang Starr - Tonz 'o' Gunz.
Fitting, seeing as our Chelsea is blessed with a ton of gunz (attacking options) itself.

A proper cruise midweek in Slovakia, accomplished with several of the first team rested, has positioned the CFC to do the business on Sunday at home. A win would be our fourth successive to start the season. As mentioned previously (the stat), such an achievement carries certain significance.

The likes of Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba should return to the fold, no question. There could be a query as to whether Michael Essien deserves a rest. I for one am opposed to the idea, considering his form at the moment. Ferocious. The same can be said for Yossi Benayoun, who will indeed be available with Yom Kippur ending before Sunday's match. He was sensational at Zilina; that would warrant consecutive starts in my view, leaving Ramires on the outside looking in - that is if Essien does in fact start.

The rest of the first team is straight forward. John Obi Mikel is perhaps the man of the season thus far, raising his level of play ten, maybe twelve-fold. According to the official club site, the Nigerian monster has misplaced just 11 passes this season. That gives him an exemplary 96% passing success rate. Monster, indeed.

Branislav Ivanovic, meanwhile, appears to be suffering from some confidence issues, but is a must-pick nonetheless. Bane, grab this game by its throat. That goes for the rest of the lot as well. The Blues have netted 47 goals in their last 11 league games, conceding just four. More of that please.

Projected XI


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