Chelsea welcome Cardiff to Stamford Bridge on Saturday for the first league game between these two sides since March 1984.
Chelsea go into the game third in the table two points behind leaders Arsenal, while Cardiff sit in 14th after taking eight points from their opening seven games.
Cardiff face a daunting task at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea winning all three of their home games so far this season and 10 of their 13 Premier League home games in 2013. Chelsea have also scored twice in all three home games so far, conceding just once in the game with Aston Villa.
Cardiff have won one, drawn one and lost one of their three away games in the Premier League so far, after Jordon Mutch’s stunning strike gave them all three points in their last away game against Fulham. Cardiff have only kept one clean sheet so far this season in the Premier League, which came in the 0-0 draw with Everton.
Chelsea’s strike-force of Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o have all struggled in front of goal this season, hitting the target with 41% of their 22 shots and failing to score, with on-loan Romelu Lukaku scoring 4 times, Oscar’s three goals makes him the only Chelsea player to score more than once this season.
Chelsea will be without Marko Van Ginkel who has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury, while Fernando Torres also looks set to be out. Ashley Cole missed both of England’s World Cup qualifiers with a rib injury and it is unclear whether he will be fit to face Cardiff.
Andreas Cornelius is the only doubt for Cardiff, with Malky Mackay otherwise having a fully fit squad to choose from.
- Only Fulham (138) have conceded more shots than Cardiff (123) this season.
- Cardiff have committed the fewest fouls in the Premier League this season (61)
- Only Nicolas Anelka (8) has been caught offside more times than Fraizer Campbell (7) this season.
- Steven Caulker has blocked more shots than any other player this season (12)
- Chelsea have scored 2 goals in their last 8 home games
- David Marshall has made the most saves in the Premier League this season (31)
- Cardiff have had the fewest shots on target this season (17)
Oscar is Jose Mourinho’s first choice number 10 this season, with the Chelsea manager stating that Oscar’s ability to close down the opposition as well as his all round play being the reason that he is ahead of Mata in the pecking order and is prepared to build his side around the Brazilian.
This has been illustrated in Oscar’s stats this season, with the Brazilian entering into a ground duel every 11 minutes, winning 55% of them and making a tackle every 46 minutes whilst winning 83% of them. This is compared to Mata, who last season entered into a ground duel every 12 minutes and made a tackle every 110 minutes.
Oscar has already made 12 tackles this season, which is only 13 less than Juan Mata made in the whole of last season with Mourinho sacrificing the creativity of Mata for a more all-round player in Oscar this season giving Chelsea more steel in midfield.
Oscar has had more shots than any other Chelsea player this season (14 not including blocked), hit the target with 43% of these shots and converted 21% of his chances, including 100% of his clear cut chances.
When Oscar is on form then Chelsea are on form and Cardiff will have to stop the Brazilian pulling the strings if they are to have any chance of getting anything from this game.
The former Tottenham centre half will have a busy time on Saturday and will need to be at his best to stop the likes of Eto’o, Hazard and co.
Caulker has blocked more shots than any other player this season (12) and may need to continue this form going into Saturday’s game with Chelsea having the second most shots at goal in the Premier League this season (125). Caulker will also need to get his positioning spot on throughout the game with Eto’o looking to get in behind at every given opportunity.
Caulker has put in some rock solid displays in recent weeks, after a shaky start, winning 2 of his 3 tackles and all of his 3 ground duels against Newcastle as well as making 7 clearances. He is forming a decent partnership with Turner in the heart of the Cardiff defence and is keeping one of the best defenders in Mark Hudson out of the team, with Cardiff’s defence starting to gel as a unit.
The former Spurs player has also improved Cardiff’s options at defending and attacking set pieces with his height and strength being clear for all to see when he notched his first goal for the club against Fulham.
With Chelsea’s home form I can see no further than a home win, but it will not be a easy game for the blues with Cardiff looking to make more of a name for themselves after beating Manchester City earlier in the season.
Chelsea 2-0 Cardiff