Roberto Di Matteo reported a focused squad ahead of the league challenge away to Swansea, albeit one feeling a few effects from testing fixtures played in the last fortnight.
Following the impressive win at White Hart Lane the players flew to the eastern end of Europe for a Champions League match in Ukraine, before the draining double header against Manchester United that was extended by 30 minutes when the cup game went into extra-time.
Di Matteo listed Juan Mata (hamstring) and David Luiz (ankle) as his main concerns for Saturday afternoon’s match.
Ashley Cole has recovered from a swollen ankle and is available but Frank Lampard (calf) remains out. Wednesday’s Champions League match at home to Shakhtar Donetsk will come too soon for the midfielder.
Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic return from suspension but with John Terry still banned, if David Luiz is not passed fit then Ivanovic will play centre-back.
‘From the last few games and with the extra time we played we have a few others that have niggling injuries as well,’ said Di Matteo.’ Mata and David Luiz are very doubtful.’
John Mikel Obi is also in the squad. Di Matteo has no concerns about playing him in light of the club’s formal complaint lodged with The Football Association on Wednesday.
‘Mikel’s frame of mind is good and he is focused on the playing and the training, and he will be ready for the game tomorrow,’ said Di Matteo.
‘He is a very strong character and has a very strong personality. He has shown that in his performances.
‘From what I can see and feel, my players once we get on to the training pitch are fully focused on training and the games.
‘The team is playing well despite the one defeat we had in the league. We showed that we can compete with any other team and the win on Wednesday was a great for the spirit of the group.’
On facing Swansea
Now in their second Premier League season, the Swans are again holding their own against more established sides and go into this weekend off the back of knocking Liverpool and their former manager Brendan Rodgers out of the Capital One Cup at Anfield.
Di Matteo believes some changes have taken place under new manager Michael Laudrup.
‘Swansea still have the same philosophy in keeping a lot of possession,’ he said, ‘but I think they are a bit more clinical now compared with the last couple of seasons when they had a lot of possession but didn’t create too many chances.
‘They go forward a little bit quicker now and score a few more goals than the past, at least in the early stages of the season.’
On Chelsea’s defensive record
Our goals against record in the league this season is only bettered by two clubs but in all competitions our net has been breached more frequently in recent games than in the earlier weeks.
‘In general it has probably been down to a few individual mistakes but our track record is good and surely we will continue that,’ insisted Di Matteo who has been without John Terry for three of the last four games.
‘John is obviously an important player for us for sure and a fantastic defender and when he plays he always plays very well for us. The other players have done fantastic jobs when they have come in but certainly JT is a player that we miss.
‘Other teams are conceding goals but we certainly have to improve our defensive organisation.’