Chelsea's predicted lineup for Premier League match against Fulham
Nobody would have seen this coming. Since his return to West London, Jose Mourinho has endured quite a start to his second Chelsea career. Having signed big names in the summer, Chelsea have lost their last two matches, accounting for the London's side worst start in the Roman Abramovich era.
This weekend, Mourinho and his men will take on Fulham in the West London derby. Generally a fixture that is very one-sided, Chelsea will have an exceptional amount of pressure on them with back to back losses to FC Basel and Everton in their rear view mirror.
While many are questioning Mourinho at the moment, the fact that the Portuguese manager has always found a way to win and to be successful must be taken into account. Back in London and with a very different team than his first group of players, Mourinho will have to figure out the best way to play his current crop and make them a team rather than a set of very good individual players.
All things considered, his task really shouldn't be that difficult. With a core similar to last seasons, many would say that Chelsea have only improved, though results would show differently. Juan Mata, Oscar, and Eden Hazard proved last year to be one of the most feared and deadly midfields in England if not Europe. The addition of Samuel Eto'o should mean that the Blues have found a solution to the lone striker issue they face with Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. All three have enjoyed incredible success at other clubs but have been underwhelming since donning Chelsea blue. While it is still early days for Eto'o and even Ba in some respect, the Torres fiasco and experiment lead to him not even being on the bench in Chelsea's midweek match against Basel.
So where does Mourinho go from here? It almost seems as if he has too much pride to play Juan Mata. Back to back player of the year for Chelsea in his first two years in London, Mata has been one of the Premier League's best and most exciting players in recent seasons (If you haven't seen Mata's Top 5 Goals at Chelsea, you really should). The fans are asking for him to play, but Mourinho seems to have other ideas. Something clearly isn't working, however, and re-introducing Mata into the starting eleven could create the catalyst to get Chelsea back to their winning ways.
With the West London derby set to take place this weekend, we take a look at a possible Chelsea starting eleven against their neighbors.
The David Luiz and Gary Cahill partnership may or may no be set to continue in European fixtures, but Mourinho looks quite set on a back four that features Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole as the wide men and John Terry and Cahill as the central pairing.
In front of them you have to wonder if Mourinho opts to drop Frank Lampard who will naturally have to be rotated because of the number of games this season and replace him with Marco Van Ginkel. Ramires could retain his typical starting role just behind the attacking three.
In front of them, we're thinking Juan Mata may be given his second Premier League start with Oscar and Eden Hazard playing on either side of him.
Finally, given that Torres didn't even make the bench against Basel and Ba doesn't appear to be Mourinho's first choice, the Portuguese manager will give new signing Samuel Eto'o another go at lone striker.
Who do you think Mourinho should play against Fulham? The likes of Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne, Willian, and others are all options for the Blues, but no one is quite sure which group of eleven is Chelsea's strongest yet.