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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Seven reasons why Chelsea are going to WIN the Champions League!

The captain - John Terry looks fitter and fresher than ever. You can't help but think that those scenes from Moscow of Terry sat on the floor, head in hands, followed by a walk through the entire Manchester United squad trying their hardest not to grin, will only act as the most stubborn determination for not just the skipper but the entire squad. If ever there was a leader ideally fit to guide his side to the biggest prize in European football then here he is.

The manager - Mr. Scolari looks to have once again embodied everything that Chelsea stand for. Watching the West Londoners, the only other time the side has maybe looked more impressive was in the Jose Mourinho era. Scolari has come in and clearly defined the role of each player in his side. Not only does he command massive respect, but the gaffer that once got banned for breaking the nose of an opposition coach, carries just as big a presence but without the arrogance of Mourinho, winning him more fans with the neutrals. He also happens top have won the biggest prize in football, the World Cup and doesn't run down the touch line telling opposition fans to be quiet.

The new men - Chelsea's signings during the summer were both clever and important. In Jose Bosingwa, Chelsea now have the right back equivalent of Ashley Cole, a full back that can bomb forward but also has the handy knack of being able to defend. Important because in a lot of big European games sides are reluctant to send waves of players forward to create a sporting equivalent of D-Day, hence the full backs getting forward is crucial. What more can be said about Deco? The signing of the Portuguese maestro was branded by some as a waste, those who said that his best days at Barca were long gone clearly haven't been watching the opening days of this season. Deco is just as influential in the side as Claude Makelele was, the difference is he is arguably the best creative midfielder currently in the Premiership.

The old men - Hanging on to Frank Lampard was a master stroke on the part of whoever decided to give him the terms he desired in his extended contract. The loss of Lampard's mother last season seems to have spurned the East Londoner on. The way that Deco and Lampard so easily switch between roles in the Chelsea midfield is a pleasure to watch, when one goes zig the other goes zag. There are few other teams in Europe that can boast a midfield pairing as impressive. John Terry's central defensive partner also has a big part to play, the beauty of having Carvalho next to Terry in the middle of defence is that you have effectively two loud and big individuals at the back of the team, I think most would agree that when you watch Chelsea this year they don't look like they'll ever leak a goal.

The keeper - Petr Cech is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. All is well and good if you have the best 10 players at your exposal in front of the keeper but it's the man between the sticks that more than often decides whether a team wins or loses a game. Cech embodies all the skills a keeper should possess; presence, skill, agility and reliability among others. The rest of the team know they can rely on him if they have a rare defensive lapse, furthermore the defence knows that if they hear a shout of ‘keeper' from behind them then they know some 6 foot plus Czech bloke is about to batter them in the back of the head.

The coaches - The loss of Steve Clarke to West Ham was a massive blow for the West London outfit, Clarke was a massive person at the club, of that there is no doubt. His replacement, former skipper Ray Wilkins, is another Chelsea master stroke. Wilkins is one of the most intelligent people in the game, although a pundit for a long time, anyone that watched him on Sky Sports or any other channel couldn't help but nod in agreement when he would decipher a situation that the other pundits would make look like the Davinci Code. He is no stranger to the big game, he also played in other European leagues, hence Wilkins has an under standing of the way other European teams are likely to set up and play, something money can't physically buy.

The fans and stadium - I'm not sure what it is but there must be some sort of magical spell over Stamford Bridge. There is no reason why the fortress like atmosphere of 80 something unbeaten games in the Premiership can't transfer itself to European occasions. Only the likes of Barcelona have entered the territory of Chelsea and come away with any pluses in recent years. Furthermore the same gritty determination that John Terry will be displaying this year will be evident on the part of the fans. There were a lot of Chelsea fans in Russia who saw their team lose, this will only spur them on to get right behind the side whoever they meet on their European adventure this season. I'm fairly sure that ‘Blue is the colour' will be sung louder than ever before.

Blues star set for Villa return

Blues midfielder Joe Cole is hoping to recover from injury in time to make his return against Aston Villa on Sunday

Cole was forced to miss last week's comfortable 4-0 Carling Cup victory at Portsmouth with a thigh injury which also ruled him out of the 2-0 win at Stoke last weekend.

The England star failed to overcome the problem for Chelsea's Champions League clash against CLR Cluj in Romania in midweek but is reportedly making good progress and hopeful of being back in the squad for the visit of Villa to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

His midfield colleague Deco looks unlikely to feature again though as he continues his recovery from a similar injury while his Portugal teammate Ricardo Carvalho is still at least a fortnight away from returning from a knee injury.

There is some good news for boss Luiz Felipe Scolari though, with striker Salomon Kalou back in the squad for the European clash against Cluj after shaking off the ankle problem that forced him to be substituted at half-time at Stoke