City travel to London tomorrow (12pm EST, NBC Sports Network) hoping to give Jose Mourinho his first ever league loss at Stamford Bridge, with his side coming off an impressive away win at Schalke in the Champions League. I spoke to Graham MacAree, who runs things over at Chelsea's SB Nation blog We Ain't Got No History and also writes for the SB Nation soccer main page, for more info on the West Londoners.
- B&B: Chelsea are on a great run of form and are unbeaten since September 18. What are the things that have worked well during this run?
WAGNH: Some of Chelsea's run has been strength of schedule, some of it has been genuine improvement. The only games in this unbeaten streak that have been really impressive are the comprehensive wins against Schalke and Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League -- there's still a lot of work to be done, unbeaten or not.
- B&B: There are a handful of new faces at Chelsea this season. How have they been settling in?
WAGNH: Willian and Samuel Eto'o have settled in relatively quickly and they're chipping in with goals, which is always a big positive. Andre Schurrle's probably been more important than either, in my mind. He helps balance Chelsea's attack thanks to his ability to track back, and although he hasn't scored when we might have expected him to grab a couple, he's been playing relatively well. Marco van Ginkel hasn't been so lucky, but suffering serious injury isn't really his fault.
- B&B: What's the feeling on the second era of Mourinho so far?
WAGNH: My feeling about it is very positive. Chelsea are clearly being managed more intelligently than they have in many years, and aside from the shock home loss against Basel the results have all been acceptable. But Mourinho will be judged on silverware, and we're not really in a position to gauge how successful the season might be for some time.
- B&B: Form and injury situation currently? Will there be any changes in personnel for the match?
WAGNH: Chelsea have been playing generally well but with a wobble or two on the way. The Norwich and Cardiff City wins weren't guaranteed until very late on, and against Tottenham we spent much of the match down 1-0. As far as injuries go, aside from van Ginkel the squad's in pretty good shape. Ashley Cole's back from his rib problem, although I don't know whether or not he'll start.
- B&B: Finally, a prediction for the match? Where do you see the key battles being played out on the pitch?
WAGNH: I hate doing predictions, but without Vincent Kompany and with the home advantage I'm hoping Chelsea can edge this one 2-1. The key battle will be played out between the lines -- both sides are very dangerous and the one which does a better job shutting down the opposition's creators should end up with the points.
Many thanks to Graham for his time!