Chelsea will take on Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday. This fixture is an uncommon one in recent history, with the two teams locking horns on only three occasions since 1986, with the Londoners coming out on top in each of those encounters.
Chelsea are one of three Premier League teams with a 100% record going into this one, with Liverpool and Watford joining them with their impeccable starts to the new campaign. Whereas with the Bluebirds it’s a very different story for Neil Warnock’s side. Life in the Premier League has proven to be a real struggle as they are yet to pick up a win since their return to the top flight.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this Saturday’s Premier League encounter…
Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff City (October 19th 2013, Premier League)
It was very much the Eden Hazard show the last time that these two teams faced each other at Stamford Bridge. It turned out to be a slow start for the hosts, but they ultimately rounded off the game with a comprehensive victory against the Welsh opposition.
Jordan Mutch had gotten the Premier League new boys off to the best possible start after only ten minutes as the Englishman latched on to a calamitous mistake from David Luiz, and had the simple tasks of lofting the ball over the helpless Petr Cech to send the visiting fans into raptures.
But Hazard struck before half-time to level the affair, before Samuel Eto’o and Oscar put the Blues firmly in control after the break. The Belgian finished off a wonderful afternoon with his second goal to add the gloss to the win for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Chelsea’s Assistant Manager Steve Holland was famously sent to face the press as the Portuguese manager was so disgusted with Cardiff’s ‘time-wasting’ tactics. Mourinho chose not to face the media after being sent to the stands for expressing his disapproval on multiple occasions to fourth official Trevor Kettle.
Eden Hazard vs Sean Morrison
Eden Hazard is in fine form for Chelsea with two goals and two assists from the first four games, highlighting exactly why the Blues were so adamant to keep the Belgian at Stamford Bridge this year.
As expected, Cardiff’s Sean Morrison, who has been one of the Bluebird’s top performers, will have a tough time against the man who spent most of his summer linked with a move away to Real Madrid.
The away side will be looking to capitalise on their positive signs from their previous game, a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal at home. Morrison was very involved in his side’s successes in that game as the big presence of the centre-half will prove to be a pest on set-pieces – but stopping Hazard will have to be his main priority.
Cesc Fabregas is the only real injury concern for Maurizio Sarri after the Spaniard was ruled out indefinitely with a knee injury. But the Blues will be spoilt for choice as they aim to keep their 100% record going.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will be out for the Stamford Bridge trip after picking up a knock against Huddersfield Town. Josh Murphy is also out but the former Sheffield United manager will be hoping to welcome back Aron Gunnarsson to the fold after he has been suffering with a knee problem of his own.
Both sides do not have any excessive injury concerns that could hamper them, with the international break falling just short of this game, this could be the game where both managers make some slight adaptations in comparison to what we have already seen from them this season.
Potential Chelsea Lineup: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.
Potential Cardiff Lineup: Etheridge; Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Ralls, Paterson, Camarasa, Arter, Hoilett; Ward.
The script seems already written for this game. Chelsea will most likely dominate possession and have the majority in midfield with the likes of Jorginho pulling the strings and Kante doing the hard grafting, trying to slip balls into wide areas for Hazard to turn inside and shoot. It will be all about how Cardiff deal with the prospect of that which will determine the outcome of this game.
Neil Warnock’s side have proven to be a team of honest hard working players that love a hard tackle. Their refusal to sit back against Arsenal almost rewarded them with points before conceding two goals late on. The Bluebirds will be happy to get a point out of this one and will be expected to frustrate from the first whistle.
Despite Cardiff’s best efforts, once the floodgates eventually open Chelsea should cruise to victory on Saturday.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Cardiff