Under-fire manager Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea team will visit Tottenham as they try to build momentum in the Premier League.
After a narrow 1-0 win over Norwich last weekend and a convincing 4-0 Champions League win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, the Blues have managed to win consecutive matches for the first time since September. Now they have the tough task of improving that win streak at the expense of their bitter rivals.
Mourinho will likely retain most of the squad that was successful against Maccabi, but he still has some decisions to make before the derby.
Centre-back John Terry is a big question mark going into the derby. The defender has been struggling with an ankle injury and might not be available for the match.
“I don’t want to say that it’s impossible he plays because maybe he plays and then you will say that I was hiding,” Mourinho said Friday. “I’m not hiding. Today he didn’t train, but we have a little hope that it’s possible [he will be available].”
In case Terry is not fit to play, 21-year-old Kurt Zouma is Mourinho’s favorite to replace him in the starting lineup.
Another unfortunate absence for Chelsea will be Ramires. The Brazilian still hasn’t recovered from a muscular problem he picked up in Tel-Aviv. Without him, the sure starters in central midfield will be Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic.
At the left-back position, Cesar Azpilicueta should return to the starting XI. Unless Mourinho decides to give youngster Kenedy another shot at the position. Kenedy started against Norwich and had a good match.
However, the biggest decision for Mourinho to make will be playing either Oscar or Pedro next to William and Eden Hazard. The Brazilian has been struggling, but still managed to put a good display in the middle of the week when he scored a goal and assisted on another against Maccabi.
Pedro also has been struggling since arriving at Stamford Bridge. The former Barcelona player had a good match against West Brom in August and hasn’t performed well since then. It will be up to Mourinho, but Oscar should be given the nod to start since he at least showed glimpses of what an in-form Oscar is capable of.
Radamel Falcao and Thibault Courtois are to return soon for Chelsea, but still won’t be healthy enough to face the Spurs.
For the home side, Nacer Chadli, Alex Pritchard, and Nabil Bentaleb are on the injured list, while Erik Lamela is still listed as doubtful for the game.
Taking all of that into consideration, Chelsea’s starting lineups should look like:
Chelsea Possible Starting Lineup
Begovic; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Zouma, Ivanovic; Fabregas, Matic; William, Oscar, Hazard; Diego Costa.