Chelsea are at the Madejski Stadium tonight to take on Reading looking to close the gap on second-placed Manchester City.
The Blues head into the game off the back of Sunday’s disappointing 2-2 draw with League One Brentford which followed last weeks exit from the League Cup to Swansea, so Rafa Benitez will be demanding a response from his players tonight.
Chelsea have been given fresh hope of catching second-placed Man City after the champions were held by QPR on Tuesday night, so the west Londoners will look to cut the deficit to just three points with a win over Reading.
However, the hosts are desperate for points themselves as they battle to stay in the division. The Royals currently sit in the bottom three but are on a good run after picking up back-to-back wins over Newcastle and West Brom so Brian McDermott will look to maintain the momentum tonight.
Chelsea will be without first choice goalkeeper Petr Cech for the game after he failed to shake off an ankle knock that kept him out of Sunday’s FA Cup clash. Ross Turnbull will continue to deputise in goal.
Defender David Luiz is also out with a calf problem so John Terry is expected to continue alongside Gary Cahill at the back. Eden Hazard serves the second of his three match ban while Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel are away at the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria.
Reading will be without striker Jason Roberts who is nursing a hip injury. Noel Hunt is also a major doubt after he picked up a knock against Sheffield United on Saturday. New signing Daniel Carrico is not expected to feature yet.
Chelsea have been excellent on the road this season having won five and drawn two of their last seven away games. Their recent record against the Royals is also impressive with the Blues taking 13 points from a possible 15, so Reading are going to have a tough task to get anything tonight. Reading 1-2 Chelsea
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