Chelsea On Rescue Mission Against Portsmouth


By Semiu Osho and Jide Alaka
March 24, 2010 01:29AM
Grant set to compound former club's woes
Chelsea face a tricky test against Portsmouth at Fratton Park, as they look to rescue their fading chances of winning the English Premier League title.

After enjoying a long spell at the summit of the table, the Blues' season have witnessed a dramatic setback where they now look to battling for a second place finish, following their damaging weekend draw at Blackburn.

They, however, have the chance to reduce Manchester United's four point lead to one, if they bounce back to winning ways tonight, when they face their former manager, Avram Grant, who is the current boss of embattled Portsmouth. Grant won 36, drew 13 and lost five of his 54 matches in charge of Chelsea from 2007 to 2008, guiding them to the UEFA Champions League title before surrendering the crown to Manchester United in Moscow.

Bottom-placed Portsmouth, who appeared to have lost the battle to escape relegation after having nine points deducted from their total, could benefit from the London opponents' dwindling form. Chelsea have only won three of their last seven league games and with influential defender, Branislav Ivanovic missing through injury, Pompey may fancy their chances of getting at least a point from the game.

In the other games scheduled for tonight, Manchester City will host Everton in what is expected to be another huge game at the City of Manchester Stadium while Aston Villa will host Sunderland at the Villa Park.

Blackburn and Birmingham will also battle at Ewood Park.

Serie A: Inter face struggling Livorno
This is about first against last but 17-goal man, Diego Milito, may miss this match and the upcoming Roma match to injury. Trouble may also continue to brew in the Inter camp between hot-head forward Mario Balotelli and Jose Mourinho, as Balotelli went on camera to say, after not being part of the Inter team that beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, that the plaudits should be for the team and not to the coach: 'Whose victory was it? No way! It was the team that won at Stamford Bridge, not Mourinho.' The youngster has however, been re-instated into the first team. Inter have won one match in five on the domestic scene in what can be described as a lull but Livorno's record reads one point from a possible 15. Inter have already beaten the Amaranto twice this season, once in the league and in the Cup with Livorno yet to register a goal against the champions. Normal service should resume with a win for Inter almost guaranteed.

Bologna vs. Roma
Roma are just four points off the summit and travel to face a Bologna team who are sitting uncomfortably in 14th position, waiting to pounce. Roma defenders, John-Arne Riise and Juan, are confident their side can catch Inter and win the Scudetto this season. 'The comeback is possible. Inter are the favourites, but we believe,' said Riise. 'It will be fundamental to win in Bologna to give us every chance in the head-to-head on Saturday'.

Juan agreed, and said that his faith lies in the fact that Roma have another card up their sleeves with the likely return of Francesco Totti. 'For us, it will be an advantage to get our captain back. We hope that he can get back to his best,' the Brazilian explained. Inter will be tired. They are playing a lot and are still active on all fronts. Inter travel to Stadio Olimpico to face Roma on Saturday

Parma vs. Milan
After missing another opportunity to leapfrog Inter, the Rosseneri will have another chance when they travel to Stadio Ennio Tardini to face Parma. Milan will be missing Alexandre Pato and Allesandro Nesta. These absences have become the key to whether Milan will win the Scudetto or not. David Beckham is out for the rest of the season. Though the Leonardo-tutored side have earned more points on their travels than at home, they will have to be wary of a youthful Parma side.

La Liga Barcelona will be 'Messi-less'
Defending champions, Barcelona, face lowly Osasuna with Lionel Messi looking virtually unplayable. The Barca wunderkind has scored 25 goals in 27 matches and has eight goals in three matches going into this match.

A last-minute own goal from Gerard Pique cost Barcelona two points in the reverse, as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Osasuna. If Messi plays well, the question is now how many goals will be scored by the 'Flea' as he continues to conjure magic with his boots and he has added scoring goals with his head.