After scrambling a draw against Brentford, in the FA Cup, Chelsea make the short trip down the M4 to take on Reading, in the Premier League, this Wednesday evening. It`s a game we need to win if our hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, next season, are not to be hampered. Reading, having gotten promotion form the Championship last season, have struggled to make an impact but enter this fixture on the back of a good FA Cup win over Sheffield United. Can Chelsea bring the three points back to West London or will it be another fraught evening?
With the squad depleted through injury, suspension and African Cup of Nations duty, Rafa Benitez may be regretting not calling some of our 23 players who are out on loan, or as Rafa put it at his pre-match press conference,
“It is difficult for us because we play a game every three days. I don`t know if we will get anyone in the transfer widow. We`ve had conversations and now it depends on the club.”
“We cannot bring back some of the players who are out on loan because we have an agreement that they will carry on for the rest of the season.”
“The squad would be fine if we had everyone available.”
“Hopefully the injured players will come back and the African Nations Cup will give us our players back sooner rather than later.”
“Then we`ll have the squad to deal with this congestion.”
And there I was thinking fixture congestion was associated with a winning team who had the foresight to make allowances for things such as suspensions, injuries and international duty.
Reading Team News:
Brian McDermott, keen to keep Reading in the Premier League in the face of growing pressure, will have to make do without his striker Jason Roberts. Also doubtful is Noel Hunt who faces a fitness test.
Our sources also infer that McDermott`s new signing Daniel Carrico, won`t feature.
Player to watch: Ian Harte
Now thirty-five years of age, the former Leeds United player is still a threat from free-kicks – be warned
Chelsea Team News:
Chelsea approaches this game with numerous players unavailable. Out injured are David Luiz and Oriel Romeu whilst Eden Hazard is serving the second game of a three game suspension received for his altercation with the Swansea ball-boy. Also missing will be John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses, both on international duty with Nigeria.
Chelsea supporters will be hoping that Petr Cech will have overcome the ‘niggle` that kept him out of the Brentford game but they`ll also be pondering over the following;-
? Will Demba Ba start instead of Fernando Torres?
? Will John Terry be fit enough for a second competitive game in the space of four days?
? Will Marko Marin be given another start after hi spoor first half at Griffin Park?
? Is the squad so thin we might even see Yossi Benayoun pull on a first team shirt?
Player to watch: Juan Mata
Its fast being said that without the influential little Spaniard we look devoid of ideas!
Match Facts & Stats
The record books show that Chelsea have the edge over Reading in competitive fixtures.
Chelsea haven`t lost to Reading since 1930 when Reading triumphed 3-1.
In the five league games since then, Reading have suffered five losses
If you look at all competitions, Chelsea have lost just 3 times in 19 matches.
Our officials for this encounter are:-
Referee – M. Halsey
Assistant – R. Ganfield
Assistant – D. Cann
Fourth Official – R. East
I swear its easier picking the National Lottery winning numbers than a Chelsea result these days. Our form is so erratic that suggesting any game is going to be easy is quite capable of leaving you with egg all over your face. But, Reading have been struggling this season and this is a fixture we should, despite our depleted squad, win. I`m staying loyal to the cause and going for a 2-0 Chelsea win, with Juan Mata and Demba Ba being the heroes. And as for those winning lottery numbers, I`m keeping them to myself!
Our next fixture has us on the road again when we travel to St James Park to take on a Newcastle side that haven`t lived up to the promise shown last season.