Match to be played on 5th January 2014 at 14:15. Venue: Pride Park, Derby.
The Blues, just like many of their rivals, have been forced to endure a very hectic Christmas and New Year schedule and this could be a match Mourinho uses to rest several key first team players.
Here is the side he may go with for Sunday.
GK – Mark Schwarzer
The Aussie is a very experienced player to have coming into the team and Chelsea lose no discipline and organisation by having him in the side. He’ll be able to command the back four effectively.
RB – Cesar Azpilicueta
The Spaniard is producing some of his best form in a Chelsea shirt and he should continue at right-back in the absence of Branislav Ivanovic. Azpilicueta is effective at both ends of the pitch.
CB – Gary Cahill
Cahill is an efficient and consistent defender and someone with football league experience. He’ll understand the gritty way that Derby will try and play and his ideally suited for a physical game.
CB – David Luiz
The Brazilian can be a little erratic but he’ll more than likely feature with Mourinho using the match to rest John Terry. He reads the game very well although his desire to take risks can sometimes get the back four into trouble.
LB – Ashley Cole
This is probably a game that Cole would have been rested for but with Ryan Bertrand carrying a knock and Azpilicueta on the other side of the defence, Mourinho doesn’t really have any choice but to start Cole.
RM – Andre Schurrle
Schurrle will provide width on the right hand side and balance to the midfield in general. He’s a very good player when it comes to protecting the ball, which will allow Chelsea to keep pressure over their opponents.
DM – Michael Essien
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Michael Essien coming into the side and sitting in front of the back four to protect the defence. Mourinho loses nothing if he starts Essien ahead of John Obi Mikel.
CM – Ramires
Ramires could be pushed further forward into a central position, dropping off when Chelsea are under pressure. He’s certainly good enough to sit in the middle and pull the strings for the Blues.
AM – Oscar
Juan Mata was taken off in the win against Southampton and the way Oscar played in his place will probably get him the start. He’ll be the midfielder who sits furthest forward to support the striker.
LM – Willian
Willian will be full of confidence after a fantastic goal against the Saints. He can play out wide and he can drift into central areas where he’s equally effective and offers a variety of threats.
ST – Samuel Eto’o
Eto’o should relish the chance to get at the Derby defence. A good performance will do his confidence and ego the world of good ahead of a very important second half of the season for the club.
image: © Eamon Curry