Chelsea will be hoping to regain their four point lead at the top of the Premier League when they travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.
Liverpool’s victory over Sunderland on Wednesday moved them to with a point of first place, but with Brendan Rodgers’ side not playing until Sunday afternoon, and Arsenal hosting Manchester City later on Saturday, the Blues can once again create distance between themselves and the chasing back.
Ramires remains suspended, while Samuel Eto’o is doubtful after limping out of last weekend’s 6-0 win over Arsenal, and Ashely Cole is doubtful with the knee injury that kept him out of that game.
The Blues have won their past five games against the Eagles, the last of which saw goals from Fernando Torres and Ramires secure all three points for Jose Mourinho’s men at Selhurst Park back in December.
Palace themselves are desperate for the points as they look to end a run of five games without a win.
Last weekend’s last minute loss to Newcastle United – their eighteenth of the season, left them just three points of the bottom three of the top flight, having played a game more than eighteenth place Sunderland.
Chelsea sent out a clear message of intent to their title rivals by thumping Arsenal 6-0 at Stamford Bridge Saturday lunchtime.
Samuel Eto’o put the hosts in front on five minutes, and their advantage was doubled just two minutes later through Andre Schurlle – both goals coming from clinical counter-attacking from Jose Mourinho’s side.
Then, on seventeen minutes, the Blues were awarded a penalty after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tipped an Eden Hazard shot away with his fingertips.
The incident led to a sending off, it was defender Kieran Gibbs who was dismissed after referee Andre Marriner appeared to have mistaken him as the culprit.
Hazard duly converted the penalty, before Oscar made it 4-0 three minutes before the break.
The Brazil international then scored his second and his sides fifth on sixty-six minutes before substitute Mohamed Salah completed the Gunners’ misery with his first goal for the club five minutes later.
The result sees Chelsea remain four points of clear of second place Liverpool, who beat Cardiff City 6-3 later in the day.
The Merseyside club will have the chance to reduce that gap when they host Sunderland on Wednesday evening, while Chelsea will now turn their attention to Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace before they host Paris Saint Germain, who they were drawn against in the quarter finals of the Champions League.
Chelsea are planning to make a £30m bid for Wayne Rooney if he fails to sign a new deal with Manchester United, according to the Mail Online.
The Blues made two bids for the England international during the summer, but were rebuffed on both occasions.
However, despite being a rare star performer in David Moyes’ stuttering side, the 28 year old is stalling over a new contract, something which has alerted Jose Mourinho.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are set to fail in their pursuit of Ryan Bertrand due to the lack of game-time Victor Moses has had since moving to Anfiled on loan in the summer, the Mirror understands.
The full-back is likely to secure a temporary move away from Stamford Bridge this month, with Fulham also reportedly interested in securing his services.
The England international, who is currently struggling with a knee injury, has made just one Premier League appearance under Jose Mourinho.
Elsewhere, Crystal Palace are the latest side to be linked with a loan move for out-of-favour striker Demba Ba, according to the Mirror.
Eagles boss Tony Pulis is keen on adding more firepower to his squad, as he looks to guide the side to Premier League survival.
Chelsea moved to within two points of Premier League leaders Arsenal by edging past Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Fernando Torres gave the Blues the lead with his first goal in five league games on sixteen minutes before Marouane Chamakh drew the Eagles level thirteen minutes later.
Ramires then fired in a second for the hosts ten minutes before the break which was enough to secure victory for Jose Mourinho’s men, who will now turn their attention to what will be there second trip to the Stadium of Light in the space of two weeks, as they take on Sunderland in the quarter finals of the League Cup tomorrow evening.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have been drawn against Galatasaray in the last sixteen of the Champions League.
The first leg takes place in Istanbul on February 26th, with the return leg at Stamford Bridge three weeks later.
The tie will see striker Didier Drogba face the club for the first time since he bowed out with the winning penalty in the shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final.
The Ivory Coast international, who joined the Turkish club in January, has scored twice in the competition so far this season.
Chelsea will be without Gary Cahill for tomorrow afternoon’s match against Crystal Palace.
The defender has a thigh problem and will not be risked against the Eagles, who have been somewhat resurgent under new manager Tony Pulis.
Cesar Apilicueta will regain his spot at left back despite Ashley Cole making his first appearance in thirty-nine days in the 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest in midweek.
The Blues will hope to close the gap between themselves and leaders Arsenal who travel Manchester City earlier in the day.
Jose Mourinho’s men then face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Monday week.
Meanwhile, the Blues’ boss has refused to commit on whether he will again move for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney when the transfer window opens next month, ESPN understands.
The England international, who was the subject of interest from Chelsea during the summer, has been one of a small number of star performers for the Champions since David Moyes became their manager.
Rooney is entering the final eighteen months of his contract with United and the situation is likely to be monitored closely by Mourinho, who recently told reporters that he has faith in his current selection of misfiring forwards.
Chelsea will be without Brazilian midfielder Oscar for this evening’s trip to Sunderland.
The 22 year old injured his ankle in Sunday afternoon’s 3-1 win over Southampton, and joins international teammate David Luiz on the side-lines, though Samuel Eto’o could feature after returning to training following a hamstring problem.
The Blues have are unbeaten in their last three league games, and have lost just one in their last nine. Three points here will keep the pressure on leaders Arsenal, who host Hull City this evening.
This evening’s match begins a run of three matches against teams currently in the bottom five of the Premier League for Jose Mourinho’s side.
They travel to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon before facing Crystal Palace seven days later.
Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois is set to hold talks with the club regarding his long term future, Sky Sports understands.
The Belgium international is currently in his third season on loan with Atletico Madrid, where he has established himself as one of the best young goalkeepers in world football.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have been linked with a move for the 21 year old, who is yet to play for Chelsea since signing from Genk in 2011.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has urged Kevin de Bruyne to seek regular first team football away from Stamford Bridge, Sky Sports understands.
The midfielder has barely featured for the Blues since signing almost two years ago, spending the second half of the 2011/12 campaign back on loan with Genk, before joining Werder Bremen for the entirety of last season.
Since returning to Stamford Bridge in the summer, he has made just three league appearances under Jose Mourinho, and his international coach believes that a move would be hugely beneficial to him.
Schalke are reportedly interested in signing the 22 year old, who is in line to win his eighteenth cap for Belgium against Colombia tomorrow evening.
Meanwhile, Demba Ba is considering a move to Turkey as he seeks more game time, according to the Express.
The Senegal international has made only a handful of appearances for the Blues since Mourinho’s return to the club, and has scored just twice in the league since signing from Newcastle United.
Finally, former Blues defender Dan Petrescu is the latest name to be linked with the vacant manager’s post at Crystal Palace.
Petrescu made over 200 appearances in a five year stint with the club towards the end of the last Millennium, and won the FA Cup, UEFA Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Super Cup.