Chelsea v Birmingham City

The festive season fixture list madness continues with two more matches in three days, the first against struggling rival Blues Birmingham City.

Our excellent form over the traditionally busy Christmas and New Year period continued on Wednesday evening when we defeated a resolute Manchester City 1-0, making it six points out of six after victory over near neighbours Fulham on Boxing Day. Under Jose Mourinho we remain unbeaten during the festive schedule.

Frank Lampard is expected to return to the starting line-up after his record-breaking run of 164 consecutive Premiership matches was brought to an end on Wednesday because of illness. Ricardo Carvalho is struggling with a persistent ankle injury, while Carlo Cudicini could be given a rare opportunity in goal.

City’s Chelsea exiles Mario Melchiot and Mikael Forssell are out injured, while on-loan midfielder Jiri Jarosik is ineligible against his parent club.

Prediction: Birmingham City will try to use Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United as a turning point in their season. They’re currently languishing second from bottom in the Premiership table having won just three matches all season.

We have won seven of our ten Premiership matches against City, although we only managed a 1-1 draw at the Bridge last season and a 0-0 the season before that. Expect City to attempt to hold out for another draw today, but fail. A hard fought 1-0 or 2-0 is on the cards.

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Chelsea 2 – 0 Birmingham City · Update

First half goals from Hernan Crespo and Arjen Robben maintained our eleven point lead at the top of the table (see the goals here (downloadable zip files)).

That’s nine points from nine over the festive period, and 101 points in 2005. It is only the third time that a team has earned over 100 points in the top flight in a calendar year; Liverpool did it in 1982 and Manchester United in 1993.

Here’s to an even better 2006.

Happy New Year.

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Sporting Life; Official Chelsea FC Website; Sunday Times; Independent on Sunday; The Observer; Sunday Telegraph; The Guardian; The Independent; The Times; Daily Telegraph.

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