BIRMINGHAM ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Riot Police line the outside of the pitch during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrews on January 16 2011 in Birmingham England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Despite fears that the Premier League would postpone the entire opening weekend as a result of rioting in several areas, Chelsea will play their first match of the season as planned against Stoke City on Sunday afternoon. The only match to end up called off was Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton. So life continues as planned, and Chelsea still have a series of injury issues. What else is new?
In other news, reports that Romelu Lukaku managed to hurt himself on international duty for Belgium seem a little exaggerated. The forward participated in training with the Blues at Cobham on Thursday, despite him having yet to officially sign with the club. It's unclear whether or not he'll be available for Sunday's match, however.
Here's a list for the Chelsea players unavailable or questionable for the opening fixture:
- Fernando Torres (concussion, probably out)
- John Obi Mikel (ankle injury, questionable)
- David Luiz (knee injury, questionable)
- Daniel Sturridge (3-game suspension, out)
- Michael Essien (knee injury, out)
- Branislav Ivanovic (thigh injury, questionable)
- Romelu Lukaku (yet to sign)
This is going to be fun, isn't it? It's almost to the point that we can just pencil in Andre Villas-Boas' starting lineup on Sunday. Here's my guess: