Blackburn vs Chelsea: Skipper relishing Rovers battle
Written by Joe Carroll.
It’s probably fair to say that Chelsea have been enjoying a walk in the park of late. A kind Premier League schedule had many predicting the Blues would kick off in style and 12 goals in their first two games seemed to prove the oracles to be correct. Whilst the 1-0 reversal to multi-million pound Man City a few weeks ago and the Carling Cup exit to Newcastle United were disappointing results, they serve merely as a tiny blemish in an otherise perfect start to the 10/11 campaign.
Since Carlos Tevez’s match-winning strike last month Chelsea have not conceded a single goal; even more impressive is their home defensive record where regular punters have not witnessed the Blues concede a goal in 781 minutes of football. One has to go back to the end of March when Aston Villa’s John Carew netted in his side’s 7-1 crumbling. What may impress fans even more however, is that Carlo Ancelotti’s defence have broken Jose Mourinho’s record of 675 minutes set in 04/05. That record sent Chelsea on their way to a league title that year. What are the odds that this record will do the same?
Let’s not get drawn in to bets and wagers. The season is still in bloom after all and it is important not to get carried away. Despite the downpour of goals in attack and the drought of them in defence, it is unlikely that Chelsea’s players will be getting too carried away either. Yes they do sit very prettily atop the Premier League, and yes the position does suit them well; a five point lead and a 12 goal distance between second placed Arsenal adds much to this claim. But the noises coming from Stamford Bridge seem to be the right ones, as captain and goal-miser John Terry warns of the difficulties ahead:
“We can’t expect to go to Ewood Park and pick up three points just because we’re Chelsea Football Club” said Terry.
“First and foremost we’ve got to go there and have a fight with them. We have to be prepared for a scrap.”
If Chelsea’s opening season score-lines suggest a lack of respect for their opposition, Terry’s words of warning reveal nothing but that for the and come in light of the recent media debates surrounding the art of tackling (or lack of it). Chelsea have hammered the likes of West Brom, Wigan and Blackpool in a manner that would appear ruthless by the scoreline. But Terry’s comments reveal that if there was ever a model way to prepare yourself for a game, Chelsea are practising it.
Chelsea have first and foremost won the fight that the likes of Stoke and Wolverhampton Wanderers last week will bring to the game. After matching them for commitment and courage, the Blues know they have earned the right to go about killing the game off- with 4, 5 and 6 goal margins nothing new to the Londoners.
This weekend, Blackburn will be waiting for the visit of Chelsea with the same steeliness and grit that characterises many of the Northern industrial town clubs. Sam Allardyce’s sides are famous for their rough-and-tumble approach to the game and as a result the former Bolton manager has been one of the Premier League’s bosses at the forefront of the bad-tacking furore. Allardyce and and the like have rightly fought their corner, urging against the outlaw of hard but fair tackling. Whilst the line between fair and reckless has become blurred in recent weeks, Terry speaks loud and clear about what corner of the ring he stands in:
“What has been said about teams like Blackburn, Wolves and Stoke is very unfair,” said the Chelsea skipper.
Having made his name as a no-nonsense, tough-tackling defender it is no surprise top see Terry take this stance, and with a trip to the battlefield that will be Ewood Park on Saturday afternoon, Chelsea will need the fighting spirit of Terry and his defence to match Blackburn’s physicality from the first whistle to the last. If they meet Rovers head on in this encounter, then they will earn their right to play the free-scoring attacking football that has so far defined their season. Up in the hard-knock Lancashire town of Blackburn this may be easier said than done, but don’t expect Chelsea to be seen waving the white flag of surrender at any point. Ancelotti’s side are certainly no push overs and if they can win this battle then it will be one battle closer to re-claiming that precious title.
Chelsea: Chelsea’s only long-term absentee Yossi Benayoun continues his rehabilitation, but the much missed Frank Lampard is nearing a return to first team action. The England midfielder along with Brazilian Alex could well feature if late fitness tests are passed, but it is likely that they will at best make the bench.
Blackburn: Keith Andrews is not expected to feature for Rovers for at least another week as he sits this one out with a groin strain. Defender Ryan Nelsen missed the game with Liverpool after failing a late fitness test but could be back for the visit of Chelsea. Steven N’Zonzi was taken off in that game with a hamstring problem but should make the squad.
Possible Line Ups
Chelsea: Cech, Cole, Terry, Ivanovich, Bosingwa, Essien, Mikel, Malouda, Zhirkov, Drogba, Anelka
Blackburn: Robinson, Olsson, Givet, Salgado, Nelsen, Jones, Dunn, Emerton, Pedersen, Kalinic, Diouf
Can Chelsea handle the physical battle at Ewood Park?…Will it be a close game?…What is your opinion on the ‘tackling’ debate?… please leave your comments below
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