In no particular order, here are a few worries that were whirring through my brain when I considered the battle we will have ahead of us this afternoon:
1. How to deal with Didier Drogba? Assuming he plays, his physicality will present a different kind of threat to anything we’ve faced this season. His brute strength will present a real challenge to our defence (especially if we are to be without Hangeland) but his undoubted natural ability to create chances will pose problems inside our box. Do we go for man marking or just try and cut out the service?
2. Will Chelsea play two up front? Marrying Drogba’s ability in the air and strength with Anelka’s pace and threat in behind just makes sense to me. I guess we will have to wait and see whether it clicks with Scolari too.
3. Can Dickson Etuhu get amongst Chelsea’s midfield like Mark Pembridge? It seems a strange question but those of you with good memories will remember that Pembridge had a stormer when we beat Chelsea back in 2006. The deployment of Malbranque in an advanced position to limit Makele’s effectiveness was a masterstroke by Coleman. Could Bullard do a similar job on Mikel or would we lose his creativity?
4. Did you know that Hangeland has made more clearances, tackles and interceptions than, say, John Terry or Rio Ferdinand?
5. From the same article, John Pantsil’s delivered in excess of 50 crosses so far this season. So much for him not getting forward, then? Perhaps it proves my point about our full-backs being more like wing-backs.
6. Will the fans create an atmosphere to rile Chelsea? Last year was decidedly tame when compared with the noise we made in 2006. The fans really need to get behind the boys today and that includes our sleepy neighbours in the Riverside. The Hammersmith End choir can’t do it all by themselves, you know.
- And, most importantly, can we do it?
Check back tonight and we’ll have the answers. COYW!