Brazil international Oscar scored a stunning free kick as Chelsea booked their place in the fifth round of this season’s FA Cup with a 1-0 victory over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge yesterday afternoon.
The midfield’s curled effort from twenty-five years was enough to see the Blues through to this stage for the fourteenth time in fifteen seasons.
However, they could hardly have been handed a tougher challenge, being picked away at favourites for the competition Manchester City, who they will face on the weekend of February 15/16.
Meanwhile, the club have completed the signing of Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah from Basel for a fee believed to be in the region of £11m, the Mail Online understands.
The 21 year old, who will wear the number 15 shirt vacated by Kevin De Bruyne, becomes Jose Mourinho’s second signing of the month following Nemanja Matic’s return from Benfica.
Elsewhere, Michael Essien is set to complete his transfer to AC Milan, according to the Independent.
The Ghana international has been used sparingly by Mourinho this season, making just nine appearances in all competitions since returning from Real Madrid, where he spent the majority of the last campaign on loan.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is likely to rotate his squad for this afternoon’s game against Swansea City with Sunday’s clash with Liverpool in mind.
Ashley Cole could be recalled at left-back, while Michael Essien is available after serving a one-match suspension.
The Blues are currently in fourth place, and sit two points behind leaders Liverpool, who themselves face third place Manchester City this evening while second place Arsenal travel to West Ham United.
Anything other than three points for Chelsea may could see the slip out of the top four with Everton hot on their heels.
Meanwhile, Mourinho is lining up a £48m move for Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, according to the Mirror.
The pair worked together for three years at Real Madrid before both moved on to pastures new in the summer.
The Argentina international has been in fine form since joining Rafael Benitez’s side, scoring thirteen goals in twenty-one appearances in all competitions.
However, the Serie A side are reportedly willing to do business as it would secure them a quick profit of around £13.5m.
Only Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored more goals than the 26 year old during qualification for next summer’s World Cup finals, and will be keen to continue impressing with the tournament in Brazil fast approaching.
Tags: Arsenal, Ashley Cole, Everton, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi, Liverpool, Luis Suarez, Manchester, Michael Essien, Napoli, Swansea City
Branislav Ivanovic is set to return to the Chelsea line-up for this evening’s top of the table clash with Arsenal.
Cesar Azpilicueta is likely to switch to left back, with Ashley Cole dropping to the bench while Michael Essien will miss the game after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season in the League Cup quarter final defeat to Sunderland last Tuesday evening.
Victory for the Blues will see them leapfrog the Gunners, while only an unlikely win by seven or more goals will see them finish the evening in first place.
Jose Mourinho’s men follow this evening’s game with home fixtures against Swansea City and Liverpool before travelling to Southampton on New Year’s Day.
Manchester City are currently favourites to reclaim the Premier League title, with Chelsea second favourites and Arsenal third.
Meanwhile, the club have been alerted to reports that Porto striker Jackson Martinez has failed to agree a new deal.
Mourinho has been linked with a move for a new striker in recent weeks as his current front line continue to misfire, with Martinez one of a number of names linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge.
The Colombia international has 47 goals in 65 games since moving to Porto last year.
Tags: Arsenal, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jackson Martinez, Liverpool, Manchester City, Michael Essien, Porto, Southampton, Swansea City
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.
Tags: 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.
Chelsea’s search for a new attacker has intensified, with the Daily Mail understanding that four players are being approached by the club.
Zenit St Petersburg’s Hulk yesterday all but confirmed that there the Blues interest in him, saying at a Brazil press conference that he “would be lying” if he said Chelsea hadn’t made an approach.
Napoli president Aurellio de Laurentiis has confirmed that Chelsea have also shown interest in Uruguayan international Edinson Cavani.
The 26 year old scored 29 goals in 34 Serie A appearances last season, helping the Naples side to second in the division, their best finish since lifting the title in 1990.
Jose Mourinho is confident beating Juventus to the £25million signing of Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, while Edin Dzeko of Manchester City is another option.
The rumours throw the futures of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba into question, whist the Metro report that Player of the Year Juan Mata could also be sacrificed.
Elsewhere, Michael Essien has revealed that he is keen to reclaim his place in the Chelsea team following the return of Jose Mourinho.
The self-proclaimed Special One took Essien to the Bernabeu on loan last season, where he scored two goals in twenty-one appearances.
Fernando Torres has been recalled to the Spanish national side for their provisional squad for this summer’s Confederations Cup.
The 29 year old hasn’t represented his country since coming on as a late substitute in the 1-1 with Spain back in October, though his 22 goals in 64 club appearances this season has persuaded manager Vincente Del Bosque to include him in the 26 man party; a number which will be reduced to 23 before the tournament starts in Brazil next month.
Meanwhile, Goal.com claims that the club are close to signing Netherlands Under 21 international Marco van Ginkel.
A deal has reportedly already been agreed for the midfielder, who was recently named ‘Talent of the Year’ in his home country, an honour previously picked up by AZ’s Adam Maher and Christian Eriksen.
Another player likely to be at Chelsea next season is Michael Essien, who, like manager Jose Mourinho, is expected to return to Stamford Bridge.
The Ghana international was signed for the Blues by Mourinho back in 2005, and was taken to the Bernabeu on as season long loan back in June.
Elsewhere, the Daily Mail have reported that the club will reject any offer for defender Branislav Ivanovic, who is reportedly a £25 million target for Monaco.
Chelsea have defensive issue ahead of this evening’s Europa League Quarter Final first leg against Rubin Kazan at Stamford Bridge.
Ashley Cole picked up a hamstring injury twenty minutes into Monday afternoons FA Cup Quarter Final replay victory over Manchester United, with Gary Cahill yet to recover from a knee problem.
Forward Demba Ba will also miss out through ineligibility, having already represented Newcastle United earlier in the competition, leaving Fernando Torres as the Blues only striker in the provisional squad.
Elsehwere, reports in Italy claim that Marco Materazzi could become Jose Mourinho’s assistant manager, should he return to Stamford Bridge as manager.
The World Cup winning defender, who retired from playing after wiinning the Champions League with Inter Milan in 2010, maintains a good releationship with Mourinho from their two years together at the San Siro.
Meanwhile, Michael Essien has revealed that he fully expects to return to Chelsea, and has beacked the club to land silverware this season.
The Ghanaian international, who was used as left back in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Galatasary in last nights Champion’s League Quarter Final, was brought in on loan by Mourinho back in August, though he remains contracted at Stamford Bridge until 2015.
With all the recent talk being about players heading to Chelsea, the Daily Mail has reported that up to nine players could leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.
The most likely to depart from the club appear to be midfielder Florent Malouda, who hasn’t made a single appearance for the Blues this season, and Paulo Ferreira who has fallen down the pecking order in recent years.
Third choice goalkeeper Henrique Hilario is, along with Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres, highly likely to depart according to the paper, who also predicts that Yossi Benayoun, Marko Marin, Michael Essien and Jeffrey Bruma will be moved on.
Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois has told Spanish press that he wants to stay with Atletico Madrid once his loan deal with the club has expired.
The Belgian shot-stopper, who at the weekend broke the record for the longest run without conceding at the Calderon, is due to return to London in the summer.
Finally, the club will find out when their FA Cup quarter final replay with Manchester United will take place later this week, with the decision hinging on the result of the Europa League last sixteen second leg with Steaua Bucharest.