A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s trip to Cardiff City.
As the Premier League fires back up in to action after the international break, Chelsea travel to Wales for their match away to Cardiff City. The Bluebirds have not beaten The Blues in the top flight since 1961 and they will have to be at their battling best to win all 3 points. But that spirit is exactly what could undo Maurizio Sarri’s side.
Chelsea are on a poor run of form away in the league in 2019. Only Fulham have lost more than Chelsea’s 4 defeats this year. But a visit to a side who have lost their last 16 matches against the teams currently in the top 6 should be what The Blues need to restart their onslaught on the top 4.
Sarri is likely to be without Davide Zappacosta, but both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu should be fit enough after suffering back complaints. Otherwise the starting line up will be decided by the manager on who is feeling the freshest after the international break.
Callum Hudson-Odoi was a late call up to the England squad but played in both qualifiers. His confidence will be at the highest it has ever been with his appearances and goals for both club and country in the recent weeks. It will be tough on him if he doesn’t get a start, but the manager does love to put his faith in the more experienced wide players.
Otherwise, we could well see Emerson Palmieri and Andreas Christensen in defence. If either do not start at Cardiff, they will surely start against Brighton on Wednesday evening. If Loftus-Cheek has not recovered enough, either Mateo Kovacic or Ross Barkley will start. The rest of the side surely picks itself.
But more important than the exact line up will be their mental attitude. They are playing a side struggling against relegation and the Chelsea players should go all out against them. The hosts are without Callum Paterson and the Scottish international will be missed.
Defender Sol Bamba is also unavailable and so this should be a match where Chelsea’s dominance and possession should turn in to pressure on the home goal. A confidence building lead should be all they require to overcome what will be a hard working, tough to break down opponent.
Victory and the 3 points for The Blues would move them level with Arsenal in 5th and only 1 point behind Manchester United in 4th. Then the countdown to the end of the season and the battle for the top 4 will really be in full flow.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue