Following his comments at Friday's press conference, it seems entirely obvious to me that Jose Mourinho will retain Branislav Ivanovic in the starting lineup for tomorrow's crucial match against Southampton. Not that I really expected otherwise; Baba Rahman has apparently done very little to convince the manager, be that in training or in his limited match action. Right or wrong, it seems that we're set to continue with the Ivanovic & Azpilicueta full back pairing, just as we've done for the vast majority of the past couple years.
Jose says he has no doubt Ivanovic is his best right-back and no doubt he needs to improve his form. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 2, 2015
I do think we're going to make a change in the defensive setup however, considering that the two mistakes Mourinho pointed out midweek were both on set piece marking. Add in the fact that we're playing at home and against a big strong striker in Graziano Pelle, and I think John Terry will be restored. Whether it's Cahill or Zouma who drops to the bench isn't quite clear, but I have a hunch that it may be the former. Terry-Zouma may not technically be our best pairing, but it's tough to have much confidence in the rickety and error-prone defense as it is. Perhaps Terry's return will boost the levels of organization and concentration a bit.
Jose says those who made a big mistake in Porto know they did and they all speak about it. It's called coaching. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 2, 2015
Further up the pitch, it's even more of a crapshoot. Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas seem shoo-ins, while Falcao might get another shot at leading the line after Remy failed to impress at Newcastle. Unless there's something incredibly wrong, Oscar should be restored to his usual no.10 role, while out of all of our right wingers, only Willian seems to have any idea whatsoever of what he's doing lately. And since this is shaping up to be a rather familiar lineup, we might as well plug Nemanja Matic back in where he belongs.
Jose says his assistant reported that Remy, Oscar and Falcao trained fantastically well in training when the squad was in Porto. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 2, 2015
After all, if we are to accomplish anything worthwhile this season, these are the players we will need to perform. Otherwise, like Mourinho said earlier this week, we might as well just play the kids and get ready for some better future. Though as always, we're all just fumbling in the dark.
Jose says he will not give any team selection news ahead of tomorrow's game. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 2, 2015
Begovic | Azpilicueta, Terry, Zouma, Ivanovic | Matic, Fabregas | Hazard, Oscar, Willian | Falcao
Begovic | Baba, Terry, Zouma, Azpilicueta | Matic, Fabregas/Ramires (too close to call) | Hazard, Oscar, Willian | Falcao
At the time of writing, Fabregas and Ramires are separated by four (4!) votes, while both Zouma and Falcao are leading Cahill and Remy, respectively by just one or two percentage points. Tough decisions abound.