After a much needed win in a meaningless game against Sporting Lisbon, the Blues are back in action in the Premier League, as they host Steve Bruce’s 18th placed Hull City.
Hull City had a horrendous start to their season, sitting in the relegation zone for the first time since they made their way into the Premier League last season. Travelling to Stamford Bridge and managing to salvage anything from this game would be nothing short of a win for the Tigers, given their lack of form this season.
Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, would be hoping to get back to winning ways in the PL, after the gap between Chelsea and Manchester City has been reduced to just 3 points. The manager did rest most of his first team squad in the midweek which means we do have a relatively fresh squad although, Blues will definitely miss Cesc Fabregas in the middle to provide those defence shattering passes.
Given Hull City’s physical style of play, a lot will depend on how the teams cope in the midfield. Here are few of the key player battles though, that may influence the outcome of this game:
OSCAR vs TOM HUDDLESTONE
A little bit of a mismatch maybe? But Oscar will have to come up against the 6 feet 2 inch English Midfielder when he starts against Hull City tomorrow.
The Brazilian is no doubt having a brilliant season and his partnership with Cesc Fabregas has been the highlight for the Blues in the middle of the park. Once the Brazilian drops deep it gives Fabregas the opportunity to move forward with the ball and vice versa.
But, with the Spaniard suspended for this fixture, Oscar will have to act as the main creative outlet for the Blues, meaning, he will have to play as a proper No. 10, moving the ball forward and playing those killer passes to release Costa/Drogba up front. Although, he does have to come up against the Defensive Midfielder Tom Huddlestone in the process.
Huddlestone is basically known for his good passing range and a physical style of play. Coming up against Oscar, the Englishman will have to be on his heels though, and it would be very interesting to see who comes out on top in this battle. Do look out for it folks!
EDEN HAZARD vs AHMED ALMOHAMADY
A player battle would be incomplete without a mention of the Belgian.
Eden Hazard had a well-deserved rest in the midweek and the Belgian is up and ready to add to his list, the names of the fullbacks he has destroyed, in his quest of greatness. This time the Belgian is up against the RB Ahmed Almohamady.
The RB has started all the matches for the Steve Bruce’s side this season and has been an important cog in the wheel for the Tigers. According to Squawka, in addition to his defensive duties, the Fullback has created 19 Chances from the wings with 2 very clever assists and 17 key passes. That’s a lot for a fullback, definitely.
But coming up against Eden Hazard, Ahmed will have to check his usual darting runs in the wings because once you provide a bit of space for Belgian to work in, you are basically screwed, as it is almost impossible to stop Hazard and his dancing runs other without fouling him.
If Ahmed Almohamady is able to stop and control the Belgian, we can only know tomorrow. So, do look out for this exciting battle everyone!
JAKE LIVERMORE vs NEMANJA MATIC
As I said earlier, this would be a game which will be won in the midfield. Given Hull’s physical style of play and their lack of creativity from their middle, they usually depend upon long balls and crosses to get on the scoresheet. That’s why another battle in the midfield which could very well shape out this game might be the one between Jake Livermore and Nemanja Matic.
Jake Livermore has had a decent season so far, starting all of the Tiger’s fixtures this season. The midfielders main strength obviously is his passing ability making him one of the main creator for Steve’s side from the deep. According to Squawka, the midfielder has completed 576 passes with the pass accuracy of 85% which is really impressive. Coming up against Matic in the middle of the park though, would be a completely different scenario for the midfielder.
Nemanja Matic has been our most impressive player this season, possibly the best DM in the world right now. The Serbian excels in all aspects of the game including tackling, intercepting, shooting, closing down a player, winning the ball back, you name it. Coming up against Livermore and stopping the midfielder shouldn’t be a big ask for the Serbian but the battle does influence the outcome of this game. Look out for it!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt