Chelsea’s first game of the new Premiership campaign kicks off at Stamford Bridge at 4pm BST with Jose Mourinho still concerned about the players’ fitness levels following a hectic and short pre-season, which was further interrupted this week by a raft of international friendlies.
Mourinho has spoken of employing a more attacking style of football this season but will be hard pushed to do so in this game due to injuries, the worse he’s experienced since becoming manager in 2004.
“If the situation is normal and everybody is available then we have the chance to improve and the objective is to use more attacking players on the pitch,” he said.
But with Joe Cole (knee), Claude Makelele (muscle strain), Geremi (muscle strain), Petr Cech (shoulder), Robert Huth (ankle) and Michael Ballack (hip) all missing, there are just fifteen players available for selection.
Mourinho fears that after selling the likes of Damien Duff and Eidur Gudjohnsen he is too reliant on inexperienced youngsters such as Jon Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou. “Are they ready for the challenge when the team really need them?” he said. “I’m looking forward to finding this out.”
Manchester City will be without new signing Dietmar Hamann (foot), while Richard Dunne is a doubt with a hamstring strain and Andy Cole is recuperating from a knee injury.
Not since February 2004, 44 games ago, have Chelsea lost a Premiership game at the Bridge.