Andre Schurrle bagged a second-half hat-trick as Chelsea opened up a four point lead at the top of the Premier League by beating local rivals Fulham 3-1 at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.
The Germany international broke the deadlock seven minutes into the second half, while just sixteen minutes later, the Blues were out of sight with a comfortable three-nil lead.
Jonny Heitinga soon pulled one back for Felix Magath’s side, who remain rooted to the bottom the table while Jose Mourinho’s men are now four points clear of both Liverpool and Arsenal, and six clear of Manchester City, who now have two games in hand due to their involvement in yesterday’s Capital One Cup final, which they won by three goals to one against Sunderland.
Liverpool secured a comprehensive 3-0 win at Southampton in Saturday’s late Premier League kick-off, while Arsenal fell to a 1-0 defeat at Stoke City.
Chelsea will have the chance to extend their lead at the summit to seven points when they host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon, with the rest of the top four not in league action.
Arsenal and Manchester City face Everton and holders Wigan Athletic respectively in the FA Cup quarter finals, while Liverpool don’t play until their league clash against champions Manchester United on Sunday week.
Chelsea return to Premier League action tomorrow afternoon with the short trip to bottom of the table Fulham.
Eden Hazard and Jon Obi Mikel should feature, though neither completed ninety minutes against Galatasaray midweek after shaking off their respective knocks, while David Luiz will be assessed ahead of the game.
Goals from Oscar and Mikel secured victory for the Blues when the sides met at Stamford Bridge back in September, and another three points for Jose Mourinho’s men will ensure that they stay in first place.
However, if they fail to win Arsenal will be able to leapfrog them into pole position with victory at Stoke City, while third place Manchester City are playing in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ashley Cole has been named in Roy Hodgon’s England squad for next Wednesday’s friendly international against Denmark at Wembley.
The 33 year old will have the chance to win his 107th cap, though he will be up against fellow left-backs Leighton Baines and reported Chelsea target Luke Shaw – the latter of which the only as yet uncapped player in the thirty-man party.
Fellow Blues defender Gary Cahill has also been included, as has midfielder Frank Lampard.
Chelsea’s Champions League last sixteen tie with Galatasaray is finely poised as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Turk Telekom Arena yesterday evening.
Fernando Torres gave the Blues the lead after just nine minutes with an early tap-in only for Aurelien Chedjou to draw the hosts’ level from close range after being left unmarked almost twenty minutes into the second half.
Jose Mourinho’s men remain favourites to qualify for the last eight having, unlike their three Premier League counterparts in the competition, avoided defeat, with the second leg scheduled to take place at Stamford Bridge two weeks on Tuesday.
The club will first turn their attention to Saturday afternoon’s short trip to Fulham, where they will hope to strengthen their grip on first place in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Chelsea strikers Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o have insisted that they are not worried about recent comments made by Jose Mourinho which suggested that he is not happy with his current front line, according to Sky Sports.
The Blues boss has also branded the reporter who leaked what was said ‘a disgrace’, when asked about it at a press conference following last night’s game.
An injury time goal from club captain John Terry was enough to give Chelsea all three points against top-four hopefuls Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
The result keeps the Blues in first place in the Premier League, after their three nearest challengers also secured home victories over the weekend.
Arsenal thumped relegation threatened Sunderland 4-1, Manchester City, like Chelsea left if late to beat Stoke City 1-0 and Liverpool edged out Swansea City in a seven-goal thriller on Merseyside yesterday afternoon.
Jose Mourinho’s men will now turn their attention to the first leg of the Champions League last sixteen tie against Galatasary on Wednesday evening, while they return to league action three days later with the short trip bottom-of-the-table Fulham.
Meanwhile, Inter Milan veteran Javier Zanetti has dismissed speculation linking him with a move to Stamford Bridge by insisting that he is happy at the Serie A club, Sky Sports understands.
The 40 year old full-back had reportedly been a target for his former manager Jose Mourinho, who was said to be considering offering the Argentinian a one-year deal with a view to him becoming a coach.
However, Zanetti has said there has been no talk of a possible transfer, and has assured Inter fans that he will be staying put.
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 returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Fulham at Stamford Bridge – a result which took them, albeit momentarily to the top of the Premier League.
They ended the weekend in fourth place following wins for Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, but can reclaim top spot with three points against Spurs next time out.
The Blues had to wait until seven minutes into the second half for the breakthrough, when Brazil international Oscar fired in from close range.
Their advantage was doubled when Jon Obi Mikel grabbed his first league goal for the club six minutes from time.
Juan Mata was again absent from proceedings, but is set to play in the club’s Capital One Cup third round tie at Swindon Town on Tuesday evening.
The Spain international has barely featured under Jose Mourinho, despite clinching the teams Player of the Year in both of his seasons with the club so far.
Meanwhile, Josh McEachran has joined Championship side Watford on loan until January 2nd, according to Sky Sports.
The 20 year old spent the majority of last season with Middlesbrough, where he made thirty-eight appearances, and has also spent time at Swansea City since his last appearance for Chelsea.
Chelsea welcome local rivals Fulham to Stamford Bridge in Saturday’s late kick of in the Premier League, desperate to end their four match winless streak.
Nevertheless, the Blues are guaranteed to fire themselves into the top two, if only for the evening, with four of the five teams above them not playing until Sunday.
Manager Jose Mourinho has no injury concerns ahead of the game, but could well make changes to the side that lost to Basel on Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, Paris Saint Germain coach Laurent Blanc has confirmed his sides interest in signing Juan Mata, the Express understands.
The Spain international, who has started just two of Chelsea’s six games so far this season, has been tipped to leave the club in January with Tottenham Hotspur a potential destination for the 25 year old.
However, Blanc’s words have suggested that the mega-rich Ligue 1 side will make a move when the transfer window reopens.
Elsewhere, Nathaniel Chalobah has joined Championship side Nottingham Forest until January.
Mourinho is keen for the 18 year old, who excelled during a season long spell with Watford last term, to gain further first team experience before he introduces him into the fold at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are preparing themselves for a bid from Bayern Munich for defender David Luiz, according to the Metro.
Pep Guardiola wants the Brazil international to play in the heart of his defence as he aims to retain the league, cup and Champions League in his first season with the club.
The Spaniards former club Barcelona are also reportedly interested in the 26 year old, who the Blues paid £21m to Benfica for two years ago.
Meanwhile, the Express claim that should the transfer happen, the club could potentially move for Luiz’s international teammate Leandro Castan.
The Roma defender made 30 appearances in Serie A last season, with his last game coming in the 1-0 Coppa Italia final defeat to fierce local rivals Lazio.
Elsewhere, the club are lining up a move for Bayern Munich’s holding midfielder Luis Gustavo, the Mirror understands.
Jose he has identified the 26 year old, who is set to see his chances it the Allianz Arena limited following the arrival of Thiago Alcantara, as his top target in that position following reports that he has doubts over John Obi Mikel’s ability to play that role.
Finally, Fulham, Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic are all interested in taking eighteen year old defender Nathan Ake on loan, according to the Daily Star.
Chelsea are so confident of land Wayne Rooney this summer they are not looking at any other targets, according to the Daily Star.
Manchester United manager David Moyes has repeatedly stated that the England international is not for sale, though the bookmakers still have him at 2/5 to move to Stamford Bridge.
Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho has told Frank Lampard that he will not be a regular starter next season, the Metro understands.
The 35 year old was used sparingly by interim manager Rafael Benitez last season, but still managed fifteen goals in twenty-nine league appearances to become the clubs all-time top scorer.
Mourinho admitted that during his first spell at the club, Lampard was one of the first names on the team sheet, though he has said that won’t be the case this time around.
The Blues already have a plethora of midfielders, and included Dutch international Marco Van Ginkel earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Mark Schwarzer has revealed that he needed Jose Mourinho to convince him to join from local rivals Fulham.
The 41 year old was keen to given assurances that he will play some part during the forthcoming season, having been an automatic first choice for the majority of his career.
While Petr Cech will remain the clubs first choice goalkeeper, their participation in five competitions means that Australian international is likely to get some game time.