Chastised Chelsea can take it out on shaky Schalke
There’s never a dull moment with Jose Mourinho and we might have guessed that he wouldn’t take Chelsea’s shock defeat at Newcastle last Saturday with just a shrug of the shoulders and a lame excuse.
Instead The Angry One ripped into his team, claiming that he had made eleven selection mistakes. He quickly added that he was exaggerating – that a few of the players did okay – but he made his point very clearly and we can expect a much better approach against Schalke 04 in the Champions League tie on Wednesday night.
Coral go 2/5 Chelsea and 7/1 Schalke (7/2 the draw) and it will indeed be a shock if the home side can’t take all three points to go clear at the top of Group E.
But Mourinho is of course right to be concerned about his team’s occasional lack of cohesion and intensity. A home defeat to Basel on Matchday One means that even a win over Schalke won’t guarantee them safe passage through to the knock-out stages, especially if the Swiss side beat Steaua Bucharest at home in the other Group E game (and they are 4/7 to do so).
The Portuguese warned that there would be changes in personnel after the St James’ Park disappointment, but one change forced upon him is a replacement for Fernando Torres, who has damaged a muscle in training.
Torres has been rediscovering his mojo in recent weeks and it will be frustrating for him and for his manager that he now has to miss games. But at least it provides Samuel; Eto’o or Demba Ba, perhaps both, with another chance to show what they can do.
These two strikers have scored only one goal between them this season, but we know they have the quality to make an impact and both are at short odds to get on the scoresheet against a suspect German defence.
But there are goal threats from everywhere for Chelsea and we can now include full-back Cesar Azpilicueta, who got off the mark for the Blues against Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last week – Coral go 16/1 he nets again here, 40/1 either first or last.
A 2-0 away win at Hertha Berlin last weekend took Schalke up to sixth place in the Bundesliga, but they are a long way behind the pacesetters and don’t pose anything like the same sort of threat as would Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund – Chelsea’s 3-0 win in Germany a fortnight ago was as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests.
Chelsea should win with something to spare, maybe 3-0 again (10/1), and stay on course to win their group, but how far they progress after that is another question. Coral consider them the most likely of the four English clubs to go all the way, but 14/1 to win the competition outright is hardly a ringing endorsement.