Chelsea look set to be without goalkeeper Petr Cech as they seek their fifth consecutive Premier League victory when they take on Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday. Cech was forced off at half-time in the 2-1 victory over Everton on Sunday with an abductor muscle injury and is likely to again be replaced by Ross Turnbull.
Cech is unlikely to be the only player to drop out of the starting lineup as Chelsea attempt to negotiate the busy festive period.
“We changed two players for the Everton game to bring in fresh legs and when you play a lot of games in a short period it is really important to have players with fresh legs and energy, so I tried to manage this in the past games,” manager Rafael Benitez said, according to Chelsea’s official website.
“It was a difficult decision because against Norwich on Boxing Day we played a good game and to change players who were doing well is not easy, because everybody when they have a good game thinks I want to continue.
“You try to explain that we want to keep everyone ready, and now maybe we want to do the same again and hopefully they will understand and we keep the level of the team.”
After a difficult beginning to his tenure at Stamford Bridge, Benitez has led his side on an impressive run that has put them in a strong position to claim a spot in the Premier League’s top four come the end of the season. But if they are to have any chance of renewing a challenge for the title then the winning run needs to be maintained.
On paper, West London rivals QPR look unlikely to cause Chelsea any serious problems. After Harry Redknapp enjoyed an initial pick up in results upon taking over in November, QPR have now lost three games on the bounce.
There was particular disappointment in a 3-0 defeat at home to Liverpool on Sunday that leaves them rooted to the foot of the Premier League, eight points from safety.
QPR look set to again be without Ji-Sung Park, although he has now returned to training follow a knee injury.
D: Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole
M: Ramires, Luiz
Moses, Oscar, Mata
G: Julio Cesar
D: Fabio, Nelsen, Hill, Traore
M: Mackie, Derry, Mbia, Granero
Prediction: Redknapp could well provoke a reaction from his QPR players following their dismal showing last time out. But, while QPR earned a credible draw in the reverse fixture back in September, it is hard to see them getting anything from Wednesday’s contest. A comfortable home win appears likely.
Chelsea 2-0 QPR
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick-off from Stamford Bridge at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a delayed online stream available via Fox Soccer 2Go.