So then Jose, do you still think that you’ve got problems?  Would you rather be going into the game worrying about how your second set of expensive internationals will fit together or with only 17 fit players, 3 of whom are not realistic starters?  Would you rather be trying to get goals from Shevchenko or accommodate Andreas Johansson?

With 6 defeats behind us and Alex Cribley’s card school growing by the minute; you’d think that Chelsea would be relishing the chance to get a much needed Premiership walloping under their belt.  No so, in the lead up to this Saturday’s game the chosen one has been reflecting on his lack of options.  Ok so they may be missing a fair few of their starting eleven, but with seemingly endless funds and two and a half years at the club, surely that is only down to one man.

The question that Chelsea’s recent form has posed, is how many of his eggs has Mourinho placed in the John Terry basket?  Recent defensive frailties may also be connected to the absence of two very good goalkeepers, but without their talisman and leader, the champions back four have been looking more than a little lost.

Whether Latics can take advantage of that is another matter.  Of course the home game a few weeks back showed that we are capable of scoring against them but it’s clear that we’d struggle to stop an under 11 side carving our current defence apart.

With Arjan De Zeeuw resting his poorly toe it had looked as if Andreas Granqvist would getting his second start for Latics, however it appears that he has come down with flu and isn’t even in the squad.  That has meant that Ryan Taylor has been drafted in despite having seen no match action since his injury last winter. 

Safely assuming that Taylor will not start means that Jewell has to choose 4 from only 5 defenders.  Going on recent history only Baines and Boyce will be certainties leaving a choice between Jackson, Hall and Unsworth for the two remaining slots. 

The midfield offers more choice, but the selection will depend on who, if anyone is selected to play with Heskey upfront.  In Teale’s absence it seems likely that Cotterill will take the right wing slot with a choice of McCulloch or Kilbane on the other flank, however, if Jewell goes with two strikers then it’s likely that Lee will partner Heskey.

Places in the middle of the park may well be decided on a popularity contest.  Whilst Skoko and Landzaat are the obvious pairing, the Dutchman’s naivety with the press may mean he is still in the doghouse with either Johansson or Haestad slipping in.  Jewell’s handling of Camara last season proved that he can be pragmatic in these situations and the Scandinavians will probably miss out.

Pretty much the only saving grace for Latics is that the Chelsea captain is still missing, on the other hand Carvalho and Drogba return from suspension and there’s a chance that their hero at the JJB, Robben could be fit enough to play a part.  Mourinho will no doubt be gutted that he’s still stuck with the problem of getting Essien, Makelele, Ballack and Lampard sorted to make chances for the Premier League’s leading goal scorer.

You don’t have to be a genius to work out what Latics’ chances are, if you need any reminding a quick trip to the bookies should tell you.  Even the draw is at 5-1 so it’s safe to say that we’re not fancied.  Jewell is confident that his team are just one result away from turning the corner, and there’s probably some truth in that.  We’ve been losing games to silly goals, and that will affect people psychologically.  I wonder if anyone has still got Jason Roberts’ hypnotist’s number?

Not a patch on team selection:
Kirkland; Boyce, Hall, Unsworth, Baines; Cotterill, Landzaat, Skoko, Kilbane; McCulloch, Heskey

Not a patch on prediction:

Chelsea 2-1 Latics

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