Luiz out of Reading clash
Chelsea look set to be forced into at least one change for their Barclays Premier League clash with Reading at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night after David Luiz ruled himself out.
Brazil defender Luiz took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to reveal he had picked up a knee injury and would miss their first home game of the season.
The 25-year-old posted: "Good morning #geezers! I’m a little bit sad today, because I can’t play tonight, I have pain on my knee!"
Gary Cahill would appear to be the logical replacement for Luiz.
Meanwhile, Roberto Di Matteo has backed Eden Hazard to get even better for Chelsea following the £32million man’s stunning Barclays Premier League debut.
Hazard made a dream start to life in England’s top flight during Sunday’s opening 2-0 win at Wigan, claiming two assists inside the opening seven minutes at the DW Stadium.
Reflecting on Hazard’s performance on Sunday, manager Di Matteo said: "He left his mark on the game.
"In pre-season, he showed that kind of quality in training.
"Now, in the Premier League, hopefully there’s more to come from him."
That could depend on how Hazard deals with the kind of rough treatment dished out to him by Wigan on Sunday, something he shrugged off afterwards.
Di Matteo was also unconcerned on Tuesday that his new playmaker could find himself a marked man.
He said: "He was certainly targeted, but I don’t think there was any malicious intent by the Wigan players.
"It’s just difficult to mark players like that."
It is just as well Hazard looks like settling in so quickly, with Oscar having only arrived at Chelsea last week and fellow new boy Marko Marin sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Di Matteo revealed on Tuesday that Marin may have to wait almost another month to make his debut.
"It won’t be long for Marin, but it might not be before the international break," he said.
He added of Oscar: "We’re slowly looking to integrate him, like we did with the other new signings.
"He’s not been long with us, so we need to give him the right time to get him used to his new team members and the team, and our tactics, and slowly put him into the team."
That could mean minimal changes to the side on Wednesday.
Di Matteo said: "Sometimes, you look at it and think, ‘Don’t change a winning team’, but it doesn’t always work this way.
"We’ll see for tomorrow. I haven’t made our final decision yet. I have to think about it."
Two players who may be anticipating that decision more than most are Florent Malouda and Yossi Benayoun, neither of whom have been in Di Matteo’s matchday squads this season.
Malouda was a target this summer for Brazilian side Santos – who claimed they were put off by his wage demands – while Benayoun spent last season on loan at Arsenal.
Asked about the prospect of either being allowed to leave permanently or on loan, Di Matteo would only say: "We’ll have to see until the transfer window closes.
"At the moment, they’re with us and part of it."
Di Matteo also insisted there was "no news" when quizzed about suggestions Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta was poised to complete his protracted move from Marseille.
The Italian added there would be no new arrivals before Wednesday’s fixture, which was brought forward from the first weekend of September due to Chelsea’s involvement in the UEFA Super Cup a week on Friday.
The scheduling gives the European champions a chance to steal a march on their Premier League title rivals and they will go top of the table providing they do not suffer a shock defeat.
"It’s probably better to play this game before rather than being a game behind," said Di Matteo, who refused to read too much into the opening-game defeats of other big teams.
"The first game in the league often has crazy results.
"They even themselves up a bit as the season goes along."
But he added: "It’s always crucial to get off to a good start.
"It gives you a bit of confidence and makes you believe you can have a good season."
Chelsea will be expected to brush aside npower Championship winners Reading but Di Matteo knows enough about them from his time at West Brom not to take them lightly.
"I always found it very hard to play against Brian McDermott’s team," he said.
McDermott will come face to face with Hazard for the first time since he spotted the Chelsea star on a scouting mission for Reading.
The Belgian’s exploits against Wigan came as no surprise to McDermott, who five years ago scouted the player while on an assignment for the Royals.
Even as a 16-year-old, McDermott knew Hazard was destined for big things, but admits it would have been impossible to tempt him to swap the French club for a place in the Reading squad.
"You can’t go to a place like Lille and say ‘we’ll take your best player’. It just doesn’t happen," McDermott said.
"But I remember watching him. He was 16 and I thought he was a great talent then. He was phenomenal and everyone there knew at 16 what a talent he was going to be. He stood out like the proverbial sore thumb."
Some have expressed concern that opposition teams will try to kick Hazard out of the game, but McDermott thinks the midfielder will get adequate protection from officials in the English top flight.
"When I played you could kick people out of the league because that’s how it was in those days," the Reading manager said.
"Now it is not like that, thank God. One tackle now and you get booked and that’s why the flair players thrive."
While Chelsea eased to victory over Wigan, Reading had to work much harder in their first game of the season on Saturday.
The Berkshire club needed a 90th-minute equaliser from Adam Le Fondre to snatch a draw against Stoke at home.
Wednesday night’s game will be much harder with the likes of Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar likely to feature for Chelsea, but Reading midfielder Mikele Leigertwood insists the visitors will attack from the off at Stamford Bridge.
"You can’t go into any games fearing teams or sitting back. You have to attack and put teams under pressure and I’m sure we’ll do that [tonight]," Leigertwood said.
"We want to give a good account of ourselves and go there and win, hopefully."