Only four teams in the Premier League are currently in worse form than Chelsea, with the Blues having collected just four points from our last five games (and only six points from our last seven) — averaging less than one point per game, or relegation form, as it’s known in the business. Not great, Bob!
Rough patches can happen of course at any point in any given season, but we’re also down to tenth at the moment, with zero margin for error in any top-six or even top-four ambitions we may have remaining. And while we do have one or two games-in-hand over most of the other teams in the league, it’s hard to bet on us taking too many points from them, especially as one of those is tonight, against Manchester City.
On the bright(er) side, we do have just one loss at home all season in any competition (6-3-1), the 1-0 reverse to league-leaders Arsenal in early November, so perhaps we can indeed “use Stamford Bridge”, as Graham Potter put it...
Date / Time: Thursday, January 5, 2023, 20.00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Paul Tierney (on pitch); Michael Salisbury (VAR)
Forecast: Cool, slight chance of rain
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); Peacock (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Everyone’s bracing for things to get worse before they get better, and that’s slowly and surely becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. How, when (if?), and with whom we’ll weather this storm (eventually) will be fascinating.
In a bit of positive news, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has returned to full training while Ben Chilwell’s making good progress. Everyone else, including Reece James, N’Golo Kanté, Wesley Fofana, Édouard Mendy, and Armando Broja, remain as they were.
Youngsters Lewis Hall, Omari Hutchinson, and new face Derrick Abu have been training regularly with the first-team of late, while new signing Datro Fofana is starting to come up to speed as well (though it’s unclear whether he’ll actually stay with the team or head out on loan, or whether he’ll even get a work permit in the first place).
Manchester City team news: City dropped two points over the weekend in a “one of those days” 1-1 draw against Everton (one of the few teams in worse form than Chelsea!), which probably means that they will be extra motivated to put the hurt on us. Arsenal then dropping two points as well yesterday — though in a much less confounding fashion against third-place Newcastle United — means that a City win here would close the gap at the top back to just five points.
City have almost everyone available, with only Rúben Dias confirmed out. Fellow center back Aymeric Laporte faces a late fitness test while best striker on the team not named Erling Haaland, Julian Álvarez has finally recovered from his post-World Cup party and could be ready to start if needed. Same goes for Phil Foden, who has made only substitute appearances since the restart of the season.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Previously: After beating City three times in the span of six weeks in the spring of 2021, including of course in the Champions League final, we have now lost three in a row and without scoring a single goal. Last time we played, in November, we didn’t actually play too badly, but we floundered in front of goal, making a Man of the Match out of their backup goalkeeper.