CHELSEA v Hull: Preview

Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Saturday, 13 December
Kick-off: 15:00

In spite of press reports predicting we were just about washed up after we’d lost our first game of the season to Newcastle last week, our response against Sporting Lisbon should have demonstrated we’re some distance from being on the ropes yet. Of course, we’ll play this game without Fabregas and Courtois although Matic is back and even with a much changed side midweek, we already seemed to be playing with a bit more freedom with that ‘unbeaten’ monkey off the players backs.
After failing to score in his last 4 games in all competitions though, Diego Costa should prepare himself to be put out to pasture if he has the audacity not to score again today because he’ll surely be auctioned off.

MANAGER’S VIEWS’
Going into today’s game, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho isn’t panicking about absentees, insisting “It’s just our philosophy. Fabregas obviously has been amazing for us and is playing fantastically well but he is suspended so we don’t think about him. We trust the other person that will have a chance to play, and Fabregas will be fresh to play against Derby. Courtois had a little problem in training, a little muscular problem and he’s not available. It’s a chance for Petr and a chance for Mark to be on the bench so we’re more than comfortable. We have played Petr in three Champions League matches and every Capital One Cup game and he has always had our confidence. He has absolutely nothing to prove to me, to the club, to his team-mates or to the supporters. It’s an easy, simple situation for him: go and play, which is what he has done his entire career. It’s very comfortable for me, for the players and for the fans to know our goalkeeper tomorrow is Petr Cech. It’s his natural habitat to be in goal and not on the bench. That’s why since the beginning of the season I have kept saying it’s perfect for me to have Petr in the squad.”
Whilst on overall changes with our own game and that of today’s opposition, the Chelsea manager says “We’re a completely different team. There has been evolution in the quality of our game and evolution in many individuals after so many weeks of work. We are a better team. I hope the result can be the same. We are better and I think Hull are with the great work Steve [Bruce] is doing.”
Hull manager Steve Bruce meanwhile, says of us “It’s funny…one of the reports I get from the scouts usually tries to highlight a weakness and this one came back as ‘none: they don’t have any weakness’, which I thought was quite amusing. They have marvellous talent. they haven’t just got flair players, they’re good at set-pieces, they’re big and strong, they’re powerful, good in attacking areas. They’re one of the best teams in Europe and they’ve arguably got the best coach too. He’s box office, the fella. What Jose has done is quite remarkable. I remember going there with Sunderland a few years ago (2010) and winning 3-0, which always sticks with me, but that doesn’t happen very often.
They had the look of being unbeatable didn’t they? Jose’s come back in and does what he does very well. You have to go and work against Chelsea because they do. They’re a terrific team who everyone thought would be unbeatable. It just shows you what this league is that their eight- or nine-point lead has been taken down to three. So if we go with the same mentality as we did to Liverpool and Arsenal, who knows, maybe we can take something from them.”

SQUAD NEWS
For Chelsea, Thibaut Courtois (muscular) misses out, so Petr Cech will make his first Premier League start of the season. Nathan Ake remains out, Nemanja Matic returns from his ban, and the suspension baton is passed to Cesc Fabregas for this game. John Terry, Eden Hazard and Willian are all back in contention after their rest for the Champions League game midweek.
For Hull, Mohamed Diame and Robert Snodgrass are injured, Nikica Jelavic (illness) is fit again and Curtis Davies could be handed a recall. Gaston Ramirez has completed a three-game ban and the assumption is that Hatem Ben Arfa will be sent to Coventry again.

TEAMS
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Petr Cech – Branislov Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta – Nemanja Matic, Ramires – Willian, Oscar, Eden Hazard – Diego Costa
HULL (Possible line-up): Allan McGregor – Maynor Figueroa, Michael Dawson, James Chester – David Meyler, Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore, Stephen Quinn, Gaston Ramirez – Abel Hernandez, Sone Aluko

LAST SEASON
Chelsea 2-0 Hull (18th August 2013)

OTHER STUFF
•Hull have never won at Chelsea
•Hull are looking for their first Premier League victory over Chelsea home or away.
•Chelsea’s defeat last weekend was their first in 18 Premier League games.
•Chelsea are yet to drop any points at Stamford Bridge in the league this season, with seven wins from seven.
•Chelsea have kept 12 clean sheets in their last 15 home games in the league.
•Hull have gone eight games without a league win and only won one of their last 14.
•Hull have scored only two goals in their last seven Premier League games.
•Hull have not recorded more than two shots on target in any of their last six league games.

PREDICTION
Hull have never won at Stamford Bridge but the pressure will be more on us to get a win than them to take anything away from today’s game. They won’t make it easy for us though!

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