Are we ready for some Chelsea Football ? Of course we are so get your popcorn ready (or soymilk ), whatever it is that gets you in the mood. The English Premier League is slated to open on Saturday August 16, or tomorrow if you prefer. Chelsea kicks off their season opener during the second leg of the weekend on Sunday against Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge, the Lightning Rod of English football.
As we get set to embark upon yet another exillerating campaign of the world's favorite past time, I thought it would be fun to share a good pre-match report with everyone here at Chelsea FC Fans and this is what I came up with. It's from the BBC News Agency/sports division published last night 14/8/08 and it's a thoroughly done piece of football expertise. I hope you enjoy it.
OK, just one last thing I want to make sure everyone is aware of........
2007-08 EPL Champions Manchester United
We'll have absolutely no more of this and you heard it from me first !!!!
Venue: Stamford Bridge Date: Sunday,17 August Kick-off: 8:30 AM ET
Chelsea will start with Nicolas Anelka on his own up front with Didier Drogba and Andriy Shevchenko still injured and Salomon Kalou at the Olympics.
Portugal internationals Jose Bosingwa and Deco are set to make their debuts.
Portsmouth include new signings Peter Crouch, Younes Kaboul and Jerome Thomas but Pedro Mendes has joined Rangers.
Sean Davis (hip), Glen Little, Noe Pamarot (both thigh), David Nugent and Linvoy Primus (both groin) are all out, but Kanu may be fit to be on the bench.
Chelsea Line Up: Cech, Cudicini, Bosingwa, Belletti, Terry, Carvalho, Alex, A Cole, J Cole, Lampard, Essien, Ballack, Deco, Mikel, Anelka, Wright-Phillips, Malouda, Pizarro, di Santo.
Portsmouth Line Up: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Utaka, Diop, Diarra, Kranjcar, Defoe, Crouch, Lauren, Cranie, Kaboul, Thomas, Traore, Kanu, Mvuemba, Wilson, Ashdown.
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari on mercurial striker Nicolas Anelka:
"Anelka has looked good in training and will play as centre forward.
"He played well in the friendly matches but he is quiet. If you say 'good morning' to him he will say 'good morning' back but if you don't he won't say anything.
"We need to put fire in Anelka - tell him 'look Anelka, you are very good'. Maybe this will be the season for him."
Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp on his squad:
"We are short of three players.
"We may have to sell another one [to raise the money to buy], but if another one goes that's another loan I need.
"There is no money left to spend. The owner has backed me and I can't fault him. There are still great players here. But we still are short of cover."
Chelsea take to the field for the first time for competitive action since the Champions League final defeat to Manchester United, and begin yet another new era - this time under Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The Londoners defend a 21-match unbeaten Premier League record.
Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth, who ended their season by winning the FA Cup, are aiming to end Chelsea's phenomenal undefeated home sequence, which now stands at 82 matches.
Pompey are battling to avoid a fifth successive league loss.
Portsmouth have dropped more points (29) lost more games (nine) and conceded more goals (20) to Chelsea than to any other club since gaining promotion to the Premier League in 2003.
It's now 53 years since Pompey last left Stamford Bridge with maximum points, courtesy of a 1-5 top flight triumph on 3 September 1955.
Distance between clubs: 70.2 miles (113 kilometres)
Last season's finishing position: 2nd, two points behind champions Manchester United
1. One of 10 founder members of the Premier League competing this season.
2. One of seven ever-presents competing in their 17th Premier League campaign. The others are Arsenal, Aston Villa, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham.
3. Not finished outside the top five for six seasons.
4. Average Premier League finish: 6th (5.56)
5. Last season's total of 85 points was the highest ever runners-up tally in a 20-club Premier League.
6. Kept 63 clean sheets in 114 Premier League matches over the last three seasons (55%). Need one more to total 250 in Premier League history.
7. Looking to win their opening league fixture for the seventh year running. Not lost on the opening day since the 2-1 reverse, away to Coventry in 1998. Also, scored three goals in their first league matches in each of the last two seasons.
8. Won 15 and drawn six of their last 21 Premier League outings, since a 1-0 defeat away to Arsenal on 16 December 2007; their only loss in 31 league matches.
9. Own the best Premier League record in 2008 with 13 wins and five draws from 18 matches. Their 44 points is two more than Manchester United's return over the same period, and they remain the only top flight club yet to lose a league game in this calendar year.
10. Won 50 and drawn 18 of 68 at home in all competitions since the 1-2 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League on 22 February 2006. Not lost a league game at the Bridge since the 1-2 reverse to Arsenal on 21 February 2004 (won 60, drawn 22). Not lost in 103 domestic matches in front of the home faithful if penalty shoot-outs are excluded.
Last season's finishing position: 8th
1. Embarking on their sixth successive Premier League campaign.
2. Last season was their best yet in this league. Their highest finish was accompanied by their best points total of 57.
3. Average Premier League finish: 13th (12.6)
4. Hoping to start on a winning note for the third time at their sixth attempt in this league.
5. Last season opened with a 2-2 draw, away to Derby. It was the only time in that campaign they dropped points from a winning position.
6. Ended last season's league program with defeats against Manchester City (a), Blackburn (h), Middlesbrough (a) and Fulham (h); failing to score in the last three.
7. In danger of tumbling to five successive Premier League defeats for the first time since 12 December 2006. That sequence included a 0-2 home defeat by Chelsea.
8. Already lost a penalty shoot-out to Manchester United in the FA Community Shield at Wembley, after a goalless 90 minutes.
KEY PLAYER NOTES
Frank LAMPARD was Chelsea's top scorer last season, with 20 goals - 10 in the Premier League.
Joe COLE was Chelsea's most used player last term, making 55 league and cup appearances for them.
BENJANI Mwaruwari, now a Manchester City player, was Portsmouth's top scorer last season with 12 Premier League goals.
David JAMES made the most league appearances for the club. He kept goal for all but the last three of Pompey's league games last term.
Jermain DEFOE needs a double to total 100 career league goals (West Ham, Bournemouth, Tottenham and Portsmouth).
If he plays:-
Peter CROUCH, who's returning to the south coast club, will reach the milestone of 150 career top-flight appearances (Aston Villa, Southampton and Liverpool).
Lassana DIARRA will be facing a former club. The 23 year old French midfielder made 31 appearances (13 in the league) for Chelsea between July 2005 and August 2007.
Glen JOHNSON will also be facing former team mates. The 23 year old England international made 40 league appearances and scored three goals in four seasons for the Londoners from July 2003.
HEAD TO HEAD
The only points Chelsea have dropped in their 10 Premier League matches with Portsmouth were in their most recent meeting in February, when they drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea hold a 100% home Premier League record against Portsmouth.
Pompey have not taken a point away from the Bridge since the 3-3 draw in the old Second Division on 10 December 1988.
Home and away
League (inc PL): Chelsea 29 wins, Portsmouth 19, Draws 22
Prem: Chelsea 9 wins, Portsmouth 0, Draws 1
at Chelsea only
League (inc PL): Chelsea 17 wins, Portsmouth 6, Draws 12
Prem: Chelsea 5 wins, Portsmouth 0, Draws 0
LAST SEASON'S CORRESPONDING GAME
Chelsea 1-0 Portsmouth
25 August 2007 - Ref: Alan Wiley
Chelsea scorer: Lampard 31
Mike Dean (Wirral)