Fernando Torres is fit and available as Chelsea return to Premier League action by hosting Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The striker was unavailable for Spain during the international break and instead used the time to recover from a knee ligament injury suffered against Steaua Bucharest at the start of the month. With Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o also available, Mourinho has a selection dilemma on his hands; something which he welcomes.
“I want to have problems by having players, I don't want to have problems by having players injured,” he said, according to Chelsea’s official website. “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.”
The match comes too early for Ashley Cole, however, who continues to miss out with a rib injury that meant he missed the climax of England’s successful World Cup qualifying campaign. One man that was heavily involved for his country in midweek was Andre Schurrle. The summer signing from Bayer Leverkusen struck a hat-trick for Germany in Sweden, but has a muscle injury that means he will be unavailable at the weekend. Mourinho sounded less than happy with the situation.
“Schurrle is a kind of problem that happens a lot in a World Cup year,” he said. “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.”
Cardiff, meanwhile, head to Stamford Bridge under a real cloud of uncertainty. The club’s owner Vincent Tan has raised more than a few eyebrows with some of his decisions since taking charge, but the announcement that respected head of recruitment Iain Moody had been removed from his role and replaced with a 23-year-old friend of his son, with seemingly no prior experience in football, maybe the most bizarre yet.
The reason for the change had reportedly been Tan’s belief that the club had overspent on transfers this summer. The move also led to speculation that manager Malky Mackay had been asked to resign, but he sought to correct both claims.
“Under no circumstances was I asked to resign and at no time have I thought of resigning from the club," he said, according to BBC Sport. “I’ve read various things in the last couple of weeks and I just need to clarify this, that we absolutely are under budget this summer.
"I'm really sorry for the fans and what they've been through over the last couple of weeks. It's been a difficult time for them where their club has been in the spotlight for non-footballing matters, so I absolutely feel where they're coming from.”
On the pitch, Cardiff will be at almost full strength, with Andreas Cornelius the only injury doubt. The Danish striker will face a late fitness test.
D: Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Bertrand
M: Ramires, Lampard
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
D: Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, Taylor
M: Medel, Gunnarsson
Odemwingie, Kim, Whittingham
Prediction: After an encouraging start to the campaign, Cardiff have now won just once in their last six matches in all competitions. It is also hard to imagine that the farcical going-ons off the field will not have some impact on the pitch. While he may say his position is not under threat, Mackay has unquestionably been undermined.
Chelsea are still far from flying on all cylinders under Mourinho, however. The side still lacks a clear identity, while there are predictable problems up front. Still, the return of Torres, who started to show some form before his injury, should be a boost and the hosts should get a fairly comfortable win.
Chelsea 2-0 Cardiff City
Where to watch: The Premier League clash will kick off from Stamford Bridge at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBC’s Premier League Extra Time and NBC Sports Live Extra.