Di Matteo blasts talk of slump

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IOL pic oct1 soccer chelsea dimatteo Reuters (File image) Roberto Di Matteo

London - Roberto di Matteo has already been forced to dismiss suggestions that Chelsea are heading for yet another November slump but there is no doubt his side are in need of three points when they visit fast-improving West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday.

When the Blues faced Manchester United at Stamford Bridge last month, they knew victory would take them seven points clear of Alex Ferguson's team.

Instead they fell to a defeat that came with the added cost of red cards for Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres.

And, having drawn their subsequent two league games, the European champions now lie in third place, three points adrift of league leaders United.

Already parallels are being drawn with last season when Chelsea's domestic decline continued until the New Year and ultimately led to the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas, Di Matteo's predecessor.

Former Chelsea and Italy midfielder Di Matteo is well aware his side cannot afford to lose more ground.

However, their efforts to claim a first win in four league games will not be helped by the absence of captain John Terry, who is out for several weeks after injuring his knee in last weekend's draw with Liverpool.

Gary Cahill and David Luiz are expected to partner each other in central defence, but attention will also be focused on Torres after Luiz urged the club to recruit Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.

The Blues have been strongly linked with the forward who scored a hat-trick against di Matteo's side in the European Super Cup in August and is believed to have a buy-out clause in his contract worth around £50-million.

And Luiz was once again impressed by the forward during Brazil's 1-1 draw in midweek with Falcao's Colombia.

“He would fit perfectly in to the squad,” said Luiz. “We would all be happy (if he signed) because Falcao would undoubtedly be a great player for our team. He is very difficult to stop. He is an excellent striker.”

Frank Lampard - who has been linked with a move to Chinese club Guizhou this week - and Ashley Cole remain doubtful through injury.

West Brom's decision to part company with di Matteo in February 2011, has worked out well for both parties according to defender Jonas Olsson.

The Swede has enjoyed playing for both managers but believes Di Matteo's move to Chelsea, where he has won the FA Cup and Champions League, combined with West Brom's change in managerial policy has produced dividends.

Albion have since had Roy Hodgson, who has gone on to manage England, with former Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke, who has taken the side to fifth in the Premier League, now at the helm.

“In Sweden we have a saying that everything happens for a reason,” said Olsson. “It worked out well for West Brom and for Robbie as well.

“When he left here it was one of those where the board just wanted to go the other way... I really liked working with Robbie.

“I think everyone is surprised what he's achieved. It's quite a turnaround.

“I thought he'd do well but I don't think anyone expected him to do so well. I'm very happy for him and Eddie Newton, who was here as No 2 - they are both top men.

“They (Chelsea) are strong at the moment - but then we're in a different place too.” - Sapa-AFP


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