Blues On For Comfortable Win Against Injury Ridden SchalkeStats
Chelsea v Schalke
Chelsea look to have been given a relatively easy draw for this season’s Champions League group stages and will be confident of getting off to a good start against a stuttering Schalke.
A 4-2 win over Swansea at the weekend maintained the Blues’ 100% start to the season and kept them on top of the pile in England. Diego Costa was outstanding again for Chelsea with the Spaniard grabbing a hat-trick to take his tally to seven goals in only four games for the club, and join Covenrty’s Mickey Quinn as only the second player to score in his each of his first four Premier League games.
Another of the new arrival’s at Stamford Bridge, Loic Remy, scored the fourth after replacing Costa in the second half while Jose Mourinho’s astute transfer dealings over the summer have also been vindicated by Cesc Fabregas’ fine form as the former Arsenal skipper got his fifth and sixth assists of the season after creating Costa’s first two goals against the Swans.
It’s been a poor start to the season for Schalke, who have picked up only one point from their three Bundesliga games so far. That their solitary point came against champions Bayern Munich is cause for hope although they’ve lost all three of their games away from home already this season, including a 4-1 beating at the hands of Monchengladbach at the weekend and a German Cup exit at the hands of lower league Dynamo Dresden.
Didier Drogba is the only major injury worry for the Blues as he continues to struggle with an ankle problem in his second spell at the club. Costa was taken off early in the win over Swansea to protect his troublesome hamstring while his replacement Remy will hope to be involved after impressing on his debut.
Ramires came on at half-time against the Swans and the Brazilian could be in from the outset here while Mourinho must decide between any two from the attacking quartet of Willian, Andre Schurrle, Eden Hazard and Oscar.
Schalke have a huge injury list to make their task an even more difficult one
…and are particularly short at the back with Jan Kirchhoff, Felipe Santana, Joe Matip, Marcel Sabotka and Sead Kolasinac all out. Midfielder Leon Goretzka is also sidelined as is forward Jefferson Farfan. They can call on World Cup winners Benedikt Howedes and Julian Draxler though.
This is the second season in a row that these sides have been drawn together at the group stages with Chelsea recording a pair of 3-0 wins in their clashes last season. Samuel Eto’o scored twice with Demba Ba grabbing the other in the victory at Stamford Bridge while a brace from Fernando Torres before a late third from Hazard rounded off a comfortable win in Gelsenkirchen last October.
The clubs were also paired together in the group stages in the 2007/2008 tournament as the English side won one and drew one before ultimately reaching the final that season and Schalke are yet to score in any of the four games against the Londoners.
With two sides in such contrasting form the only surprise here is that Chelsea aren’t even shorter than the 1/3 on a home win here. Mourinho’s men are averaging more than three goals per game at the moment after hitting 15 so far in the Premier League and are showing little sign of letting up, so the 5/6 on Chelsea to lead at half-time and full-time could be worth getting into, although the -1 handicap at 20/23 looks an even better bet and would be the fifth game in a row the Blues have won by a margin of two or more.