Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is expected to rotate his squad ahead of this evening’s Capital One Cup fourth round tie with Arsenal.
Juan Mata, Michael Essien, Demba Ba and Mark Schwarzer are all set to be handed rare starts, with Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United and Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Schalke in mind.
The Blues will be full of confidence having won their last three ties in this competition against the Gunners, including the 2007 final victory at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Mourinho lifted the trophy on two occasions during his first spell at the club, also beating Liverpool two years earlier while only Liverpool (eight) and Aston Villa (five) having won the competition more times than Chelsea (four).
Meanwhile, AC Milan manager Massmiliano Alegri has denied that Mario Balotelli is set to leave the club, following fresh reports linking him with a move to Stamford Bridge.
The Italy international played under Mourinho for two years at Inter Milan, where together they won two league titles, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.
Finally, the Telegraph understands that mega-spending Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain are ready to reignite their interest in Juan Mata, who remains on the fringes of Mourinho’s starting XI.
Chelsea are set to make several changes for tonight’s visit to Swindon Town in the Capital One Cup third round.
Cesar Azpilicueta, Ryan Bertrand, David Luiz, Michael Essien and Juan Mata are all likely to come into the starting line-up, while Mark Schwarzer could be handed his debut for the club.
The veteran Australian goalkeeper was part of the Middlesbrough team that won the League Cup in the 2003/04 campaign.
Meanwhile, Azpilicueta has emerged as a potential transfer target for Barcelona, the Metro understands.
The La Liga champions could be forced to recruit a defender if Arsenal and Liverpool target Martin Montoya moves away from the club.
Azpilicutea made forty-seven appearances in all competitions last season, but has barely featured for the Blues since Jose Mourinho returned to the club as manager.
Elsewhere, three former Blues players are among the favourites to become the new Sunderland manager, following Paolo Di Canio’s sacking on Sunday evening.
Roberto Di Matteo, who won the FA Cup and Champions League in a short spell as manager at Stamford Bridge is the currently leading the market, while Watford manager Gianfranco Zola and Gus Poyet, who is currently out of work, are also in the running.
Posted in Chelsea News
Tagged Barcelona, Cesar Apilicueta, David Luiz, Gianfranco Zola, Gus Poyet, Juan Mata, Mark Schwarzer, Michael Essien, Middlesbrough, Roberto di Matteo, Ryan Bertrand, Sunderland, Swindon Town, Watford
Jose Mourinho has just one injury concern for Sunday’s Premier League opener against Hull City on Sunday.
Juan Mata will face a late fitness test ahead of the game after suffering a slight knock, with the rest of the first team squad fit and vying for a starting berth.
Romelu Lukaku will be hoping to get the nod having returned from a season long loan with West Bromwich Albion, while Kevin De Bruyne and Michael Essien have also return after spending a year away from the club.
New signings Andre Schurlle and Marco Van Ginkel may feature at some stage, though Mark Schwarzer is expected to provide nothing more than back up to first choice goalkeeper Petr Cech.
The omens are good for the returning Blues boss, with the club unbeaten in the last sixteen opening day fixtures, and also unbeaten in their four fixtures against the Tigers in the Premier League.
However, in terms of statistics there is none more impressive than Jose Mournho’s home record in England’s top flight.
During his first spell with the club, the Portuguese manager was undefeated at Stamford Bridge and will be confident of maintaining that record as the Blues take on one of the favourites for relegation.
Barcelona are readying one final offer for Chelsea defender David Luiz, the Mirror understands.
The Catalan club are desperately trying to strengthen their back line ahead of their title defence, and have identified the Brazilian international as their top transfer target.
However, they are set to be disappointed, as the Blues have insisted that they are not willing to part company with the 24 year old, who has made over 100 appearances for the club since signing from Benfica back in January 2011.
Meanwhile, Frank Lampard has declared himself fit for next weekend’s Premier League game against Hull City at Stamford Bridge.
The 35 year old, who may also feature in England’s friendly international against Scotland at Wembley on Wednesday, has missed the majority of Chelsea’s preseason with an Achilles injury.
However, he returned for the clubs 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid last Wednesday, before scoring a trademark long-range effort in the 2-1 win over Roma in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Romelu Lukaku did his chances of securing a starting berth for the season opener, after hitting a late winner – sparing new signing Mark Schwarzer’s blushes after the veteran keeper gifted the Italian’s an opener on twenty minutes.
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.
Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has given his backing to the clubs pursuit of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, Sky Sports has reported.
The Blues made an official approach for the 27 year old earlier this week, which was rejected out of hand by the Premier League champions.
Jose Mourniho has made Rooney his number one transfer target this summer, and is expected to return with a second bid in due course.
Meanwhile, the Mail Online understands that Fernando Torres will stay and fight for his place at Stamford Bridge if Rooney does sign for the club.
The Spanish international has reportedly told friends that he will not be leaving London, with his family now settled in the capital.
The 29 year old, who scored 22 goals in 64 appearances last season, has three years remaining on his contract with the Blues.
Elsewhere, Jeffrey Bruma’s agent has claimed that the players move to Stamford Bridge is nearing completion, the Metro understands.
Mourinho has been chasing the eighteen year old for the last month, after he impressed scouts whilst playing in for Portugal at the recent Under-20 World Cup.
Chelsea are expected to pay £10m upfront for the winger, with a further £7m due to the Portuguese club in add-ons.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has endorsed the Chelsea’s three new signings ahead of the clubs preseason tour of Asia, according to Sky Sports.
Andre Schurrle, Marco Van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer will join up with their new teammates for the trip on Thursday, and the returning manager is pleased with the business the Blues has done.
The 50 year old has also been waxing lyrical about Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Tomas Kalas, all of whom are expected to be bedded into the first team next season.
The trio spent last season on loan with West Bromwich Albion, Werder Bremen and Vitesse Arnhem, but are now considered ready for action.
Meanwhile, the club have been boosted in their pursuit of Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruma, after the Portugal under 20 star reportedly begged for a move to Stamford Bridge, the Metro understands.
Jose Mourinho is said to be keen on the 18 year old, who recently impressed at the Under 20s World Cup in Turkey, though a deal has dragged on.
The Blues original offer of £12million was rejected by Sporting, who are keen to keep hold of Bruma for at least another twelve months.
Manchester City and Real Madrid are also reportedly interested, but have not made a move as yet, as they pursue other targets.
Chelsea have announced that they have signed verteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer on a one year contract.
The Australia international was released by local rivals Fulham last month following the arrival of Maarten Stekelenburg, and will provide competition for first choice shot-stopper Petr Cech.
Schwarzer came to England seventeen years ago with Bradford City, but moved to Middlesbrough after playing just thirteen games for the Bantams.
In eleven and a half years in the North East, the 40 year old racked up nearly 450 appearances, including the 2004 League Cup final victory over Bolton Wanderers.
A move to Craven Cottage followed, where he missed only a handful of games in five years, making him the only overseas player to have turned out over 500 times in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, the club will have to pay £30million if they are to have any chance of securing the services of Aston Villa’s want-away striker Christian Benteke.
The Blues are one of a number of clubs to be linked with a move for the Belgian international, who scored nineteen goals in his debut season in the Premier League last year.
The 22 year old handed in a transfer request earlier this week.