Premier League leaders Chelsea will hope to put some distance between themselves and the chasing pack as they welcome third place Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Victory for Jose Mourinho’s men will see them regain a seven point advantage over their London rivals and Liverpool, who travel to Cardiff City later in the day while Manchester City in fourth face Fulham at Craven Cottage.
David Luiz may return to the Blues starting line-up after being fit enough to be named on the bench for Tuesday evening’s Champions League last sixteen second leg victory over Galatasaray, though Ashley Cole is set to remain on the side-lines with the knee problem that saw him miss out midweek.
Brazilian internationals Willian and Ramires miss out having both been sent off in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa.
Should Chelsea lose to the Gunners in what is Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge, it would give all of the three sides below them the chance to overtake them in midweek.
Arsenal host Swansea City and Manchester City travel to neighbours Manchester United on Tuesday evening, while Liverpool host a struggling Sunderland side twenty-four hours later.
Chelsea are expected to include both Ramires and Willian in their starting line-up for this evening’s Champions League last sixteen second leg against Galatasaray, with both midfielder suspended for Saturday’s clash with Arsenal.
Ashley Cole is doubtful having been absent from training on Monday, though David Luiz is fit and could replace the cup-tied Nemanja Matic, while Mohammed Salah is also ineligible having represented Basel earlier in the competition.
Former Blues forward Didier Drogba is expected to start for the visitors, with the tie finely poised following the 1-1 draw in the first leg in Istanbul three weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho is confident that the Ivory Coast international will return to the club in some capacity in the future, according to the Metro.
This evening will see Drogba return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since leaving the club following their triumph in the final of this competition in May 2012.
The forward, who was taken to London from Marseille by Mourinho in 2004, scored 157 goals in 341 appearances, plus the winning penalty in the shoot-out victory against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
The Blues boss believes that the 36 year old will return at some point as either ‘a player, coach or ambassador’.
Chelsea’s hopes of winning a first league title in four years were dealt a blow at the weekend as they lost 1-0 at Aston Villa.
Fabian Delph’s back-heel eight minutes from time was enough to secure all three points for Paul Lambert’s side, who moved into the top half of the table.
However, the Blues’ lead at the top has been cut to four points, with second place Liverpool and third place Arsenal winning at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur respectively, whilst fourth place Manchester City, who also took all three points from their game at Hull City, are a further two behind.
All three of the chasing pack have games in hand over Chelsea; one in the case of Liverpool and Arsenal and three for Manuel Pellegrini’s men who have been reinstalled as favourites by the bookmakers.
The Blues will now turn their attention to tomorrow evening’s Champions League last sixteen second leg with Galatasary, before returning to league action against Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime.
Lose to the Gunners, they could fall to as low as fourth by the time of thier game at Crystal Palace the following weekend, with the other sides in the Champions League places all playing in midweek.
Spanish giants Barcelona are closing in on the signing of Chelsea’s David Luiz, according to the Metro.
The La Liga champions have been linked with a move for the Brazil international for some time, and are now hopeful of completing a deal at the end of the season as they look for a replacement for outgoing centre-back Carlos Puyol.
The Spain international admitted that he is set to leave the Nou Camp in the summer during an emotional press conference yesterday, having spent his whole career with the club.
Luiz has made just thirteen league appearances since Jose Mourinho returned to the club, and the Blues boss is likely to sell if Barca meet his £25m valuation.
The former Benfica man is set to win his 34th international cap against South Africa in Johannesburg this evening, alongside Chelsea teammates Oscar, Ramires and Willian.
Elsewhere, Petr Cech has been named Czech Republic’s player of the year for 2013, the Daily Star understands.
The Blues’ number one, who has now won the award for the past six years, beat Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky and Frieburg’s Vladmir Darida into second and third place respectively, with all three in line to face Norway this evening.
Chelsea began 2014 in style by beating Southampton 3-0 at St Mary’s to keep pressure on the top two in the Premier League.
Second half goals from Fernando Torres, Willian and Oscar secured all three points for the Blues, who remain a point behind second place Manchester City, who won at Swansea City and two points behind leaders Arsenal, who beat Cardiff City.
Liverpool moved back into the top four after taking all three points from their match against Hull City, while Everton slip to fifth after drawing with Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur leapfrogged Manchester United into sixth following their second successive win at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho’s men will now turn their attention to Sunday afternoon’s FA Cup third round tie against Derby County.
Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic will miss the trip to the iPro Stadium after the Blues boss confirmed that the pair will both be out of action for a month, according to the Metro.
England international Lampard was substituted with a muscle injury at half time during Sunday afternoon’s 2-1 win over Liverpool, while Serbian Ivanovic injured his knee during the same game, and was replaced during the second half.
Two goals in the last five minutes saw Chelsea beat Norwich City at Carrow Road yesterday, and record their first away win of the season.
Oscar gave the Blues an early lead before Anthony Pilkington equalised on sixty-eight minutes.
Substitutes Eden Hazard and Willian then got on the score-sheet in the 85th and 86th minute respectively to secure victory.
Senegal international Demba Ba made just his second start of the season, and was impressive before eventually being replaced by Samuel Eto’o.
However, the win was somewhat marred after Ashley Cole was substituted with a rib injury with fifteen minutes left to play.
The left-back is now doubtful for England’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Poland and Montenegro.
If the 32 year old does feature, he will draw level with Sir Bobby Charlton on 106 international caps, as will captain Steven Gerrard, while if both players play in both games, they will be just one appearance behind World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore.
Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard were also selected in Roy Hodgson’s squad, which was announced on Friday afternoon.
If Lampard finds the net, he will move level with Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney and Alan Shearer on thirty international goals.
Samuel Eto’o has revealed that his relationship with Jose Mourinho was once tense, but he is happy to be reunited with him at Stamford Bridge, Sky Sports understands.
Early in his career, the striker claimed that he would never play for a team led by Mourinho, before the pair worked together to great success at Inter Milan.
The 32 year old is set to make his second debut under Mourinho in tomorrow afternoon’s match at Everton, where the Blues will be hoping to take all three points, and reclaim top spot in the Premier League.
Willian, who like Eto’o signed from Anzhi Makhachkala last month, is also set to make his Chelsea bow at Goodison Park.
Eden Hazard could also feature despite taking a knock whilst on international duty with Belgium.
Romelu Lukaku will have to wait to make his Everton debut as he is ineligible to face his parent club.
Elsewhere, the Blues are considering a move for Sheffield United’s highly rated defender Harry Maguire, according to the Metro.
The 20 year old, who is also a target for Manchester United, has been hailed as ‘the new John Terry’ by Blades fans, was named his clubs Player of the Year in 2012.
Chelsea have completed the signing of winger Christian Atsu from Porto, according to Sky Sports.
The Ghana international has put pen to paper on a five year contract after the two clubs agreed a fee of around £3.5m, though he will spend the rest of this season on loan with Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem.
He made twenty-eight appearances for the Jose Mourinho’s former side last year, having spent the previous campaign on loan with Rio Ave, where he won the clubs Player of the Season award.
Atsu is the eighth new arrival at Stamford Bridge this summer, and is also the fourth to be loaned to Vitesse, with Gael Kakuta, Patrick van Aanholt and Lucas Piazon also having made the switch.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are set to sign Victor Moses on a season-long loan deal, the Mail Online understands.
The Nigeria international, who has not yet made an appearance under Jose Mourinho, is set to fall further down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge following the arrival of Brazil international Willian.
Elsewhere, Demba Ba is reportedly on Arsene Wenger’s radar going into transfer deadline day, according to the Mirror.
Lie Moses, the Senegal forward is set to see his chances limited after Samuel Eto’o was re-united with Jose Mourinho last week.
Tags: Arsenal, Christian Atsu, Demba Ba, Gael Kakuta, Liverpool, Lucas Piazon, Patrick van Aanholt, Porto, Rio Ave, Victor Moses, Vitesse Arnhem, Willian
Chelsea have completed the signing of Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o, according to BBC Sport.
The deal sees the former Barcelona and Real Madrid man reunited with manager Jose Mourinho, who he played under for Inter Milan during their treble winning 2009/10 campaign, and appears to signify the end of the club’s pursuit of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
The Blues have had two bids for the England international rejected by the Premier League champions, and are now unlikely to table a third offer before the transfer window closes on Monday evening.
Eto’o, who has signed a one-year contract at Stamford Bridge, became the world’s best paid footballer when he moved to Russia two years ago though he taken a large pay-cut to move to the Premier League.
He is the second player to swap Makhackala for West London this week, after Brazil international Willian was granted a work-permit to secure his own move to Chelsea.
However, neither have travelled with the squad for this evenings Super Cup final against European Champions Bayern Munich in Prague.
The 26 man party does include David Luiz and Tomas Kalas, neither of whom have featured so far this season having suffered hamstring and leg injuries respectively.
Chelsea have entered the race to sign Brazil international Willian, Sky Sports understands.
The 25 year old appeared to be on the verge of securing a move to Tottenham Hotspur, but the Blues have moved to hijack the deal with a bid of their own.
Liverpool have also been linked with the Anzhi Makhachkala man, though he seems almost certain to be moving to London.
Meanwhile, Manchester United have reportedly made an informal inquiry to Chelsea regarding the availability of Juan Mata.
The Spain international was an unused substitute in last weekend’s Premier League opener against Hull City, though he did start against Aston Villa on Wednesday evening.
It is unclear whether the contact for Mata is part of the on-going Wayne Rooney saga, with rumours suggesting that the pair could be involved in a swap-deal.
However, the Mail Online claim that United will reject a third bid for Rooney, if and when it is made by the Blues.
Chelsea have so far been rebuffed in their pursuit of the 27 year old, who has been linked with a move away from the Champions all summer.
The two sides meet at Old Trafford on Monday evening, and a renewed offer is not expected until after that match.