With no other sides in the top four playing in the Premier League this weekend, Chelsea will be looking to increase their lead at the top as they take on fifth place Tottenham Hotspur.
The Blues, who will increase their unbeaten home league run under Jose Mourinho to seventy-five games if they avoid defeat, should have top scorer Eden Hazard available after he declared himself fit despite suffering an ankle injury in Belgium’s 2-2 draw with Ivory Coast.
Midfielder Marco van Ginkel, who is still some weeks away from returning to action, is Jose Mourinho’s only injury concern.
Chelsea can move seven points clear of both Liverpool and Arsenal, and nine clear of Manchester City if they take all three points though the latter will have three games in hand.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has hinted that he may make a move for Mario Balotelli at the end of the season, according to the Metro.
The AC Milan striker, who played under the Blues boss at Inter where together they won three league titles, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League, is reportedly unhappy with life in Italy leading to speculation that he could be set for a return to the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho will have almost a fully fit squad to choose from for tomorrow lunchtime’s visit of Everton, with John Terry expected to return to the Blues starting line-up after missing the last three games with a muscle injury.
Marco van Ginkel, who is out for the season with an ACL injury is set to be the only absentee, as the Premier League leaders look to open up a four point lead at the top.
Second place Arsenal face Sunderland at home later in the day, while Manchester City in third welcome Stoke City to the Etihad Stadium.
Roberto Martinez’s men, who themselves hold aspirations of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, ran out 1-0 winners when the sides met at Goodison Park back in September.
That was the Toffee’s fourth win in their last eight league meetings with Chelsea, who saw their unbeaten run of twelve games ended by Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup last weekend.
Romelu Lukaku, who is currently out injured, would be ineligible to face his parent club regardless.
The Belgium international, who is yet to make an appearance for the Blues, has scored nine goals in twenty appearances so far this season.
Chelsea head into tonight’s game against West Ham United looking for the three points that could see them return to the top of the Premier League.
Leaders Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw at Southampton yesterday evening, giving both the Blues an Manchester City the opportunity to leapfrog them this evening.
City travel to Tottenham Hotspur, and anything less than three points for Manuel Pellegrini’s men will see Chelsea move into first place if they emerge victorious.
Fernando Torres and Marco van Ginkel are the Blues’ only absentees, though Mohamed Salah will have to wait for his debut as he is not currently in the country.
Meanwhile, Luke Shaw will hold out for a move to Chelsea rather than sign for Manchester United, the Mirror understands.
Both clubs have been strongly linked with a move for the Southampton left-back, who has emerged as one of the hottest English talents in the Premier League.
Premier League champions United are keen to finalise a deal for the eighteen year old before Friday’s transfer deadline having already broken their transfer record with the £37.1m signing of Juan Mata.
However Shaw is willing to remain at St Mary’s for the rest of the season, safe in the knowledge that the Blues will pounce in the summer.
Demba Ba is set to be recalled to Chelsea’s starting line-up for Sunday afternoon’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Stoke City.
The Senegal international has started just three games so far this season, but is expected to be given the nod after Fernando Torres was ruled out for some weeks with knee ligament damage.
Long-term absentee Marco Van Ginkel is the only other player unavailable to Jose Mourinho, though he is likely to rotate his squad, with three Premier League games coming up in the next fortnight.
Meanwhile, Juan Mata is set to undergo a medical on Friday afternoon ahead of his proposed move to Manchester United.
Reports say that a central Manchester hospital is waiting to carry out a physical examination on the 25 year old, who has told his teammates that a move is imminent.
The move looks to have been given the all clear by the Blues after a deal was agreed for them to bring in Egyptian winger Mohammed Salah from Basel.
United are set to pay a club record fee of £37m for the Spain international, eclipsing their previous record of £30.75, which they paid to Tottenham Hotspur for Dimitar Berbatov five-and-a-half years ago.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is likely to rotate his squad for Sunday afternoon’s trip to Derby County in the third round of the FA Cup.
The Blues impressed in the league over the Christmas period, taking ten points from the twelve available after beating Southampton, Liverpool, Swansea City and drawing 0-0 with leaders Arsenal.
Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic have both been ruled out for a month, and join Ryan Bertrand and Marco van Ginkel on the side-lines.
Manchester City beat Chelsea 2-1 in the semi-finals of the competition last April to condemn the club to their first FA Cup defeat, within 90 minutes, since they lost to Barnsley in March 2008.
Derby currently sit in fourth place in the Championship, and lost for the first time in ten games last time as Wigan Athletic ran out 1-0 winners when the sides met at the iPro Stadium on New Year’s Day.
They are the top scorers in the second tier with 48 goals in 24 matches, though they have also conceded the most, 30, of all the sides in the top fourteen of the division.
Chelsea ran out 6-1 winners the last time the sides faced each other, in Derby’s disastrous Premier League campaign of 2007/08.
Chelsea will welcome Ashley Cole back to their starting line-up for this evening’s Champions League clash with Steaua Bucharest.
The England left-back has not played for the Blues since last month’s defeat to Newcastle United, with Cesar Azpilicueta taking his place.
Brazilian duo David Luiz and Oscar are both fit to play, so their only absentee in Marco Van Ginkel, who is out for the season.
Jose Mourinho’s men have already booked their place in the knockout stages of the competition, but need victory at Stamford Bridge this evening to guarantee top spot in Group E.
Elsewhere, the Express have reported that Barcelona are set to revive their interest in David Luiz.
The Catalan club are lining up a £30m bid for the 26 year old, who has made just five appearances in the Premier League this season.
The report also claims that Wolfsburg will move for Kevin De Bruyne, should Chelsea decide to sell the midfielder.
The 22 year old returned to West London following a season-long loan with Werder Bremen, only to make a handful of appearances in all competitions.
Dieter Hecking’s side are one of a number in the Bundesliga to register an interest In the Belgium international.
Samuel Eto’o is out of Chelsea’s clash with Southampton on Sunday afternoon after picking up a groin injury in Tuesday evening’s Champions League defeat to Basel.
The Cameroon international, who is set to miss the next two weeks, could be replaced by Fernando Torres, who returned from his abductor injury midweek.
David Luiz is doubtful as he struggles to shake of a knee injury, while Marco van Ginkel is out for the majority of the season with a knee injury.
Victory could see Jose Mourinho’s men close the gap on leaders Arsenal, depending on their result against Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile second place Liverpool, who are level on points with the Blues, travel to Hull City on Sunday afternoon.
Elsewhere, Mourinnho has taken a swipe at Romelu Lukaku, with many still questioning why he was again allowed to go out on loan this season, the Mail Online understands.
Following a successful season-long stint at West Bromwich Albion last year, the Belgium international moved to Everton for the season on transfer deadline day.
With Chelsea’s current set of forwards largely misfiring, journalists and fans alike have been rueing the clubs decision to temporarily part company with the 20 year old, but the Blues boss has said it is for the player to reveal the reason why.
Fernando Torres will miss this evening’s Champions League clash against Schalke with a leg injury.
The Spain international, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over the Bundesliga side in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge last month, is also set to miss Saturday’s game with West Bromwich Albion.
Ryan Bertrand is also unavailable; along with long term absentee Marco Van Ginkel.
Three points for Jose Mourinho’s men will see them tighten their grip on top spot, with third place Basel hosting Steaua Beucharest in Group E’s other game.
Meanwhile, Napoli have joined Chelsea in the race to secure the services of Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic, TalkSport understands.
Former Blues’ interim manager Rafael Benitez, who took the reins at the Serie A club in the summer, is keen to bolster his midfield options in January with moves for Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva also mooted.
Matic made three appearances for Chelsea before being used as a makeweight in the deal that brought David Luiz to Stamford Bridge in 2011.
Elsewhere, Mark Schwarzer has announced his retirement from international football.
The veteran goalkeeper is Australia’s most capped player having made 109 appearances since his debut – World Cup qualifier against Canada in 1993.
Jose Mourinho has no fresh injury worries ahead on tomorrow’s meeting with Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
Marco van Ginkel, who is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, is the only absentee for the trip to the North East though several changes are expected to be made from the side that beat Arsenal on Tuesday evening.
Alan Pardew’s men came from behind to win the corresponding fixture last season while the Blues won 2-0 when the sides met at Stamford Bridge last August.
Three points here would see Chelsea leapfrog Arsenal into first place, with the Gunners hosting third place Liverpool later in the day.
Meanwhile, Mourinho has insisted that Juan Mata is not for sale despite renewed interest in the player from Paris Saint Germain, the Express understands.
The Spain international made a goal-scoring return to the Blues’ starting XI in midweek, and will be hoping to have done enough to get the nod tomorrow lunchtime.
Elsewhere, former Chelsea midfielder Ray Wilkins is urging John Terry to come out of international retirement, according to the Mail Online.
Wilkins, who also coached Terry at the club, believes that the former England skipper should make himself available for next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
Jose Mourinho will return to the dugout for Sunday afternoons Premier League clash with Manchester City, the Daily Star understands.
The Blues boss escaped a touchline ban following his behaviour against Cardiff City last time out, which saw him sent to the stands by referee Anthony Taylor though he was fined £8,000 after admitting an improper conduct charge.
Ashley Cole is likely to be available for the match after recovering from a rib injury, so long-term absentee Marco Van Ginkel is the only player not in contention.
Mourinho must decide whether to recall Samuel Eto’o, or keep faith with Fernando Torres, after the Spain international bagged a brace against Schalke midweek.
The Blues will reclaim top spot in the division if they win and Arsenal fail to beat Crystal Palace tomorrow lunchtime.
Meanwhile, Manchester United are preparing a £12m bid for Blues target Wesley Sneijder, according to the Express.
Earlier this month, Netherlands coach Luis Van Gaal urged the Galatasary midfielder to switch to Stamford Bridge for the sake of his international career.
However, it is United, who have long been linked with the 29 year old, who are considering an offer as they look to strengthen their midfield options.