Chelsea suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday that seriously damaged their title hopes. An otherwise tepid encounter turned ugly in the second half following the red card harshly awarded to Willian. The game ended in farcical scenes as Ramires and even Jose Mourinho received their marching orders.
Suffering a defeat against such modest opposition is a serious blow but their total lack of discipline could prove even more costly. Both players are available for Tuesday night’s clash with Galatasaray with a place in the last eight of the Champions League at stake and the Blues need to respond positively to their weekend defeat.
Mourinho has always insisted that Chelsea are not expecting to win the Premiership title this season and has been lamenting the shortage of attacking options. The first leg encounter ended all-square at 1-1 and he will almost certainly need a striker to come to his aid on Tuesday. That man is most likely Samuel Eto’o who was recently mocked for his age by Mourinho. The “off the record” comments seem to have been taken in good spirits by Eto’o who mimicked an old man leaning on a stick after scoring against Tottenham recently.
Eto’o’s absence from the Villa game was crucial as Torres and Ba both failed to make any impression in possibly the worst Chelsea display of the season. It is only the brilliance of Eden Hazard that has enable Chelsea to maintain a title challenge this season and they cannot afford his standard to drop. The Belgian could hold the key to unlocking the Turkish defence this week in a game that is delicately poised.
Galatasaray have nothing to lose and will see this as almost a Cup final. That will certainly be the case for returning Blues hero Didier Drogba. It was his penalty kick that ended Chelsea’s wait for Champions League glory, eventually proving to be his last touch in a Chelsea shirt. Stamford Bridge will give him a hero’s welcome and deservedly so.
The Turkish side ought not to give Chelsea too much trouble judged on their recent away form. They have only won four times on the road this season and have never won on British soil. They have also failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 16 games in this competition. Chelsea looked to be cruising in the first leg but took things easy in the second half and paid the penalty.
Chelsea must not dwell on the Villa defeat if they are to maintain their challenge at home and in Europe. Mourinho will know that the visitors can be dangerous and will be expecting his experienced players to step up to the plate on Tuesday.