TEAM NEWS: CHELSEA V CARDIFF CITY

Samuel Eto’o leads the attack with Fernando Torres on the bench.

Willian is given his home debut with Oscar among the subs following his trip to the Far East with Brazil, but David Luiz continues as John Terry’s partner and Ramires is alongside Frank Lampard in midfield.

Ryan Bertrand replaces injured Ashley Cole who misses his first league game of the season.

Petr Cech plays his 300th Premier League match.

Cardiff drop striker Frazer Campbell and midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung to the bench and bring in Don Cowie and Jordan Mutch.

Chelsea are expected to line up in the following 4-2-3-1 formation:

1 Petr Cech; 2 Branislav Ivanovic, 4 David Luiz, 26 John Terry (c), 34 Ryan Bertrand; 7 Ramires, 8 Frank Lampard; 22 Willian, 10 Juan Mata, 17 Eden Hazard; 29 Samuel Eto’o.

Substitutes: 23 Mark Schwarzer, 28 Cesar Azpilicueta, 24 Gary Cahill, 5 Michael Essien, 11 Oscar, 15 Kevin De Bruyne, 9 Fernando Torres.

The Cardiff line up is:

Marshall; K Theophile-Catherine, S Caulker (c), B Turner, A Taylor; G Medel; D Cowie, A Gunnarsson J Mutch P Whittingham; P Odemwingie.

Substitutues: J Lewis, M Hudson, C Noone, K Bo-Kyung, N Maynard, F Campbell.

The referee is Anthony Taylor.

Follow the game via our Live Matches from  2.30pm (UK time).

HAZARD: HOME COMFORTS

Eden Hazard can’t wait to take to the Stamford Bridge pitch again after four weeks, and four games, away from our home turf. Since we beat Fulham 2-0 at the Bridge we have travelled to Swindon, Tottenham, Bucharest and Norwich, picking up three wins and a draw from those away games. A break for international duty has also prolonged our absence.

‘One month is too long,’ Hazard told the official Chelsea website.

‘For the fans and for us it’s better to play at Stamford Bridge. We want to continue from the last game in Norwich when we won 3-1, and I want to score again for the fans at Stamford Bridge to enjoy.’

The Belgian has understandably returned to training at Cobham this week in high spirits after helping his national side book their place at the World Cup in Brazil next summer. Belgium guaranteed their first appearance in the showpiece tournament since 2002 with victory in Croatia last Friday night. The winger is pleased to be heading into our game with Cardiff on the back of such personal success, and hopes to prolong that feel-good factor today.

‘When you lose a game you are always a little bit disappointed, so it’s better to come back from playing with your country after a victory,’ Hazard explains.

‘You want to stay at the top level when you return to your club, keep scoring goals, making assists and winning games.’

It is no surprise that the 22-year-old is being more closely monitored than ever when he is on the pitch, such was the impact that he made on English football in his first year at Chelsea. He knows that he and his fellow playmakers must keep linking up if they are to find those elusive gaps in the opposition defence, starting this afternoon.

‘It’s difficult for me. I need to change something on the pitch, and understand the situation each game. Against three defenders it is different than against one, and obviously more difficult. I need to play more simply, but also more quickly.

‘It’s so great to play with Juan (Mata), with Oscar and with Andre (Schurrle). We have to work together to make playing together easier. When we do that we always make chances and score goals, and we hope to do that again today.’

MOURINHO: TRUSTING TERRY

Jose Mourinho says he is delighted with the progress John Terry has made so far this season.

The manager spoke on Friday afternoon about the player being in good shape this season but with injury and squad rotation limiting Terry to 27 appearances for the Blues last season, Mourinho, talking further on the subject, admits that despite our skipper’s long-established presence at the heart of our defence, a degree of physical and mental recovery was required.

‘Since pre-season in Asia, our focus with John was not his contract, or the national team. Our focus was just to try to recover his status as an important player. You can be very experienced and have a big status but when the injuries come and the manager has doubts about whether you are ready to play the big matches, and you are in and out of the team, sometimes your self-esteem can be a bit attacked.

‘Football is about the present, not the past,’ Mourinho continues. ‘John had a bad season – injuries, changing cultures, changing manager, managers’ decisions. Sometimes players go up and down because of injuries and decisions. That’s normal.

‘The first thing is his fitness. He had a very good pre-season and put himself in a good condition to start the season. Now we don’t put him under pressure to play five or six consecutive matches. It’s better to play two in a row and get really fit, then be ready physically to cope with the sequence of matches.

‘In this moment he is fine. It doesn’t mean that he will always be first choice for me, and he knows that, but he also knows that I trust him and I am happy with the way he is performing. The situation for him now is good.’

Mourinho also had words of support for another of our centre-backs, Gary Cahill. The England defender again impressed on international duty, playing the full 90 minutes in both of his national side’s recent wins, and Mourinho expects him to be back in the Chelsea team before long.

‘I trust Gary and I like him very much. I don’t like to leave players on the bench that are good players and good professionals. I want to help him and I don’t want to make his life difficult.

‘I would never do something that would jeopardise his selection for the national team. There’s no doubt he is going to play a lot. Who knows, in a couple of weeks I will change my mind because of performances and he becomes again my first option.

‘Since they started playing together John and David Luiz are playing well and they are giving stability. Gary is a very good player and he has to play, so I can say three very good central defenders for two positions.

‘From match to match I will read the game and try to make the best option for the team.

‘The whole squad is full of good players. I will never leave somebody out for four or five matches in a row. I will make rotations and everybody will have chances to play.

‘In the case of Gary I have to make him happy, I have to make him play and then he will go to the national team happy.’

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PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V CARDIFF CITY – PART TWO

As teams from two capital cities prepare for contest later today, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton complete their match preview…

WE HAVE HISTORY
During the interval at Stamford Bridge more than fifty years ago on 6 October 1962, supporters must have been pondered over their hot Bovril how Docherty’s Diamonds would ever find a way past George Swindin’s seasoned Cardiff side. Among those spotted was the renowned cricketer Jim Laker, a Chelsea supporter.

Within a few minutes of the restart the answer came in a fashion typical of that inventive, well-drilled side.

City conceded a free kick on the edge of their box and a cluster of Pensioners looked poised to take it. Eddie McCreadie ran up first but only ran over the ball. Then Frank Blunstone stabbed the ball sideways to the unnoticed Graham Moore, who swept the ball behind the visitors’ rearguard for Frank Upton to knock in.

It was street-wise trickery worthy of Laker the off-spinner and Docherty was happy to take the credit for his training ground work: ‘We don’t want other teams to know too much about it,’ he said, ‘but I can tell you we have two variations of the plan which we haven’t used yet.’ It was the third time in four attempts the ploy had opened the scoring that season.

‘A great goal,’ conceded Cardiff captain Ivor Allchurch. ‘Our defence wasn’t the same after it.’

He could say that again: from 0-0 on 55 minutes the Welsh side tumbled to a 6-0 thrashing with 10 minutes still remaining. The Blues’ goals came in batches: Terry Venables and Bert Murray inside the next five minutes, Bobby Tambling and Barry Bridges within two minutes of each other, and finally Tambling (pictured below challenging Cardiff goalkeeper Maurice Swan) on 79 minutes. Laker would have taken a stump home as a trophy after a second-half performance like that.

1962

The last occasion Cardiff played at Stamford Bridge in the league was 30 years ago in the old Second Division, on 15 October 1983.

Chelsea won with goals from Colin Lee and Pat Nevin in front of a 15,459 crowd.

Chelsea Eddie Niedzwiecki, John Hollins, Joey Jones, Colin Pates, Joe McLaughlin, John Bumstead, Paul Canoville, Nigel Spackman, Kerry Dixon, Colin Lee, Pat Nevin.
Manager John Neal

Cardiff Andy Dibble, Colin Smith, Paul Bodin, Phil Dwyer, Jimmy Mullen, David Tong, Gordon Owen, Roger Gibbins, Chris Townsend (Wayne Matthews), Chris Roden, Tarki Micallef.
Manager Len Ashurst

Cardiff’s last victory at Stamford Bridge was by the only goal by Gary Stevens in April 1981 in the old Second Division.

Cardiff were the winners when the teams last met at Stamford Bridge in the top flight – 52 years ago.

Our last 10 meetings at Stamford Bridge
1956/57 – Cardiff won 2-1 Old First Division
1960/61– Chelsea won 6-1 – Old First Division
1961/62 – Cardiff won 3-2 – Old – First Division
1962/63 – Chelsea won 6-0 – Old Division Two
1976/77 – Chelsea won 2-1 – Old Division Two
1979/80 – Chelsea won 1-0 – Old Division Two
1980/81 – Drew 1-1 – League Cup
1980/81 – Cardiff won 1-0 – Old Division Two
1981/82 – Chelsea won 1-0 – Old Division Two
1983/84 – Chelsea won 2-0 – Old Division Two

PMB

Chelsea v Cardiff in all competitions
Games played 41
Chelsea wins 16
Cardiff wins 15
Draws 10

Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 17
Chelsea wins 10
Cardiff wins 5
Draws 2

Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
Chelsea 6-0 Cardiff – 06/10/1962 (old Second Division)
Chelsea 0-2 Cardiff  – 08/11/1952 (old First Division)

DAYS SINCE
Chelsea played at Stamford Bridge: 27
Cardiff won at Stamford Bridge in the top flight: 19,022
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,073
Liverpool won the league: 8,568

TACTICAL BRIEF
This match ushers in a spell of four games in 10 days for the Blues, with Schalke away, Man City at home and Arsenal away in the Capital One Cup to come in quick order.

Fernando Torres has served his ban and recovered from a knee strain but injured Ashley Cole will be replaced at left-back by Ryan Bertrand, who played well in the Blues’ emphatic win at Swindon.

Demba Ba was preferred as the starter to Samuel Eto’o at Norwich while Torres was suspended. Both contributed strongly to the 3-1 win. However, Chelsea’s interchangeable personnel upfront, with a false or genuine no.9 switching places with the attacking midfield trio, tend to keeping defenders guessing.

Eden Hazard looked free of nagging injuries at Carrow Road and again for Belgium in midweek. His goalscoring teammate Kevin De Bruyne will hope for action over this vital period in various competitions, and is one option to come in for Germany’s hat-trick man Andre Schurrle who misses today’s game with a leg muscle injury. Willian pressed his case for inclusion with his exceptional first goal for the club.

It remains to be seen whether the influential Blue Brazilians David Luíz, Ramires and Oscar, who jetted to Korea and China this week, are included in the starting line-up.

Like Jose Mourinho, Malky Mackay has used a core of regular starters – seven ever-presents to Chelsea’s eight – in goalie David Marshall, central defenders Steven Caulker and Ben Turner, central midfielders Gary Medel and Aron Gunnarsson, left winger Peter Whittingham, and solo striker Fraizer Campbell.

Unsurprisingly set-play specialist Whittingham and striker Campbell dominate their statistics for shooting, goals, assists and offsides, while Gunnarson and Caulker top the pile in fouls and blocks respectively. Whittingham (pictured below) and goalie Marshall are the sole survivors from Cardiff’s 4-1 FA Cup drubbing at the Bridge in February 2010 under Dave Jones.

Cardiff Whittingham

Peter Odemwingie, who likes west London so much he once drove here on transfer deadline day, has slotted into wide right and hit his first goal for City in the 1-2 home defeat to Newcastle United. He enjoyed two wins over Chelsea while with West Brom, heading the winner at the Hawthorns in November last year.

Even at 34 Chelsea will be wary of another winger, Craig Bellamy, who has scored against us for three different clubs.

The usual 4-1-4-1 system allows City to attack with width, predominantly down the right, where the diligent Campbell tends to drift. He is not the best at retaining possession or avoiding offsides but had proved a handful in several games, with impressive full-back Kevin Theophile-Catherine arriving forward to cross.

Chelsea will have noted that although disciplined, central midfielder Medel can be a little loose with possession. The Blues’ attacking trio will be buzzing around them for any scraps high up the field. Occasionally their defending makes them vulnerable to swift counter-attacks and slow to close down opponents on the edge of the box.

Cardiff allow shots on goal and their outstanding performer Marshall has been forced to make more saves than any other keeper. His own strikeforce is the least accurate in the league, with fewer than half the 41 shots on target Chelsea have managed.

Mourinho lets no possible weakness escape him and Cardiff, who will almost certainly concede some height to the hosts, can be vulnerable in the air.

MOURINHO: MORE TO COME

Jose Mourinho’s first pre-match media conference for a fortnight began with good news on the fitness front for his strike force.

While many Chelsea players were away for important games for their nations, Fernando Torres was working hard at Cobham to overcome the knee ligament strain suffered on the first day of the month in Romania.

The Spaniard joins Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o in the squad to face Cardiff on Saturday afternoon and is fit enough to start if selected.

‘The medical department is good and the player has good dedication, working almost all day every day so he is back,’ praised Mourinho.

‘I want to have problems by having players, I don’t want to have problems by having players injured. I don’t want an easy selection, I want a difficult selection and I have Eto’o and Ba already and we need all three strikers because after two weeks without a game, we now have three competitions at the same time. We need everybody.’

Unavailable this weekend however are Ashley Cole, who has not recovered from the rib injury that kept him out of England action, and Andre Schurrle who returned from prolific international duty with a leg muscle injury.

‘Cole’s injury is not a dangerous situation but it is very painful and the pain persists,’ the manager told reporters.

‘We will see on Monday if he can train and have the chance of being a choice for the Champions League game against Schalke, but I have my doubts.

‘But Ryan Bertrand is more than ready. He is going to play his first minutes in the Premier League this season. I didn’t give him that chance before because while I was searching and changing in attacking positions, defensively I was trying to give a stability to the team so I kept the back four for every game, changing a bit the centre-backs but the full-backs were the same the whole time. But Azpilicueta and Bertrand are very good players and are more than ready to play.

‘Schurrle is a kind of problem that happens a lot in a World Cup year. A player with a little problem wants to play in the national team and comes back to the club injured. We cannot risk him but again no problem. Of course he is in very good form but we have other options.’

Mourinho was asked questions relating to England’s World Cup qualification and an interview he gave this week to a newspaper in which John Terry’s form was discussed.

He predicted that Cole can maintain a good level of performance for club and country for years to come and explained that the way Frank Lampard is now asked to play suits this stage of his career.

When Chelsea were winning back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 under the Portuguese’s management, Lampard was one of two midfielders asked to run forward time and time again while the third midfielder provided a screen in front of the back four. Now he is one of two playing behind four more attacking players.

‘The two midfielders become more positional and they don’t need to go forward so much, so this is also good for his life as a more mature player,’ Mourinho said.

‘This is a stable moment of his career and he can keep this for some time, because his qualities are very much adapted to Chelsea, and the national team from how I see they play. There is no problem for him to do that at Chelsea and arrive in a good moment for the World Cup.’

On Terry he said: ‘When I was in Italy and Spain I was always looking at my ex-players, and John was a question mark for me.

‘Since I arrived back I found him in very good condition and he is recovering his self-esteem, his feeling of being an important player for the team that was a feeling he lost in the last couple of years.’

Mourinho does not believe recent changes in Cardiff’s backroom staffing will have any effect on the visitors’ dressing room tomorrow. He is more concerned about the timing of the game, recalling Chelsea’s defeats against Everton and Basel following the last international break.

He trained the squad on Friday in a manner that did not allow his players to know who will be in the team, and they will be staying in a hotel overnight ahead of the game.

‘These games always put some question marks and we go to the hotel because I want the players to get back the feeling of the group and the feeling of the responsibility.’