A relegation six-pointer! Sack race decider! Last chance to save our season! And here we thought the days of the 3-3s and the 4-4s and the 8-0s and the 7-1s against Aston Villa at the Bridge were the strange and interesting and unique ones.
I daresay there's never been a matchup like this one between the two clubs. How could there be? It's a situation unfamiliar not only to the Chelsea manager, the players, and the owner, but to the fans as well, most of whom were not alive or consciously aware of football 37 years ago.
"The results are negative, there's no way to hide it."
"I've never lost four matches in eight, I never had such a bad start to the season, it's never happened. I'm not the kind of person to try and find words when the easiest word to say is that the results are bad. We've lost four matches in the Premier League, we've conceded goals and our fantastic record at home as become just one victory at home against Arsenal, so there is no way to hide the results."
-Jose Mourinho; source: talkSport via Mail
Last season we were counting matches unbeaten to start the season. This time, we're counting the opposite. Just four wins out of twelve so far, with six defeats. Just two wins out of eight in the Premier League. Unfathomable numbers, especially considering that the underlying metrics aren't really pointing at anything wildly different or unexpected either. The performances have matched the results, by and large, and vice versa. As much as we'd like to blame referees, The FA, ancient aliens, weather patterns, or the presence of water on Mars, the fact is, we've simply been bad. Inconsistent, uninspiring, bad.
Can two weeks off from club football fix all that in one fell swoop? Probably not. The road to recovery will be long and probably pretty painful. But it has to start somewhere, and hopefully it starts here.
Date / Time: Saturday, October 17, 2015, 15:00 BST; 10am EDT; 7:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Roger East — our last two matches were officiated by brand new (for us) referees; this time Mr. East will be taking charge of his second Chelsea match ever. His first one was the 2-0 win over Newcastle at the Bridge in January. Incidentally, that was the first league match after the 5-3 debacle at White Hart Lane, so perhaps the 50-year-old referee will bring us good luck once again.
Forecast: Breezy and cool. Could be worse.
On TV: none (UK); USA Network, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports 4 (India); elsewhere
Online: NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Chelsea team news: Thibaut Courtois is working hard on his rehab, but is at least a couple months away still from match action. Branislav Ivanović has been confirmed out with a hamstring injury that he picked up on international duty. Everyone else is supposedly available, even Diego Costa, having served out his three-match ban, and Gary Cahill, who may or may not have a back problem.
As far as predictions go, it's increasingly becoming anyone's guess as to how much Mourinho's willing to rip up the team-sheet that he's built over the last couple years and go with something drastically different and new. Chances are, he'd be damned if he did and damned if he didn't. But somewhere in there, there's a combination of players and strategy that should get us plenty of wins. Maybe we'll find it today.
Aston Villa team news: Not many teams have been worse on the pitch and to the naked eye than Chelsea in the Premier League so far this season, but Villa are certainly one of them. And unlike Chelsea, that's not too unexpected of Tactics Tim and his Trusty Team. Since the opening weekend's 1-0 win at Bournemouth, Villa have picked up just 1 point in 7 matches.
The good news for the visitors is the Adama Traoré, ex-Barcelona prospects, should be back fit and there are reports that Sherwood will opt for youth in the forms of Jack Grealish and Carles Gil. Up front, the towering presence of Rudy Gestede (one-time FM all-star) should provide plenty to fear for our suddenly useless aerial defense. Should Gabby Agbonlahor continue to miss out, I certainly wouldn't complain; he seems to always play annoyingly and unexpectedly well against the Blues.
Jores Okore, scorer of the goal that broke Villa's
eternal 11-hour goalless streak last time they played Chelsea in February is injured. Former Chelsea hero Joe Cole was just sent on a one-month loan to Coventry City. Former Chelsea reject Scott Sinclair should start.
For more on Villa, do check out Rob's opposition analysis.
View from the enemy: 7500 To Holte
Previously: Chelsea have won three straight against Villa at the Bridge, starting with the famous 8-0.