Chelsea vs Portsmouth : Preview

Chelsea begins a new era in the Premier League today with Scolari, the new manager at the helm. It is important to get a good start to the campaign, but a win today would mean much more to the Blues because Scolari's Chelsea would then start on a positive note. The Blues are not only looking to extend their majestic home unbeaten streak to 83 games, but also their 21 game Premiership unbeaten run.

Today's match will also see the Premiership debut of Deco, and Bosingwa if he is injury-free. Nobody would dare to predict the midfield Scolari selects for this match. It would be hard for him to accommodate all. The only one's who look untouchable are Lampard, Ballack and Deco in midfield. J.Cole and Mikel are fit to start, but their involvement in the match would be dependent on the formation Chelsea plays, which also remains a mystery. There are also reports that Essien is in the injury list along with Deco, who didn't train on Friday.

Anelka, in the absence of Drogba, might be the lone striker upfront. Franco Di Santo could be named on the bench as back up for Anelka. If its a 4-3-3, Malouda or Wright-Phillips may start with Joe Cole in the other flank. If its a 4-2-3-1 as many experts predict, then Anelka would be the lone striker upfront. In defense, Terry, Carvalho, Ashley Cole and Bosingwa would be in front of Petr Cech. If Bosingwa doesn't start, Belletti and Ferreira are likely candidates to replace him. There is plenty of cover there. With seven substitutes allowed on the bench, Alex will have lots of company there.

Portsmouth have rarely troubled the quality teams and its unlikely that Chelsea will be much troubled at Stamford Bridge today. The fixture will mark a return to the Bridge for Lassana Diarra and Glen Johnson. Defoe and Crouch would be a great partnership upfront. But taking all that into consideration I still feel we'll have a comfortable victory today. So, lets hope its a grand start to the season that promises so much. Go Blues !!

Guess at the team:
 Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, Cole 
Ballack, Mikel

J.Cole, Deco, Lampard 
subs: Hilario, Ferreira, Alex, Di Santo, Malouda, Wright-Phillips, Belletti, Shevchenko

Last 10 Meetings:
Portsmouth 1 - 1 Chelsea
Chelsea 1 - 0 Portsmouth
Portsmouth 0 - 2 Chelsea
Chelsea 2 - 1 Portsmouth
Chelsea 2 - 0 Portsmouth
Portsmouth 0 - 2 Chelsea
Chelsea 3 - 0 Portsmouth
Portsmouth 0 - 2 Chelsea
Portsmouth 0 - 2 Chelsea
Chelsea 3 - 0 Portsmouth

Highest Aggregate 11 Chelsea 7 - 4 Portsmouth 1957/1958
Highest Chelsea score: 7 Chelsea 7 - 0 Portsmouth 1962/1963
Highest Portsmouth score: 5 Chelsea 1 - 5 Portsmouth 1955/1956 

Referee: Mike Dean   
Time : 13:30 BST 
TV Timings: 1755 ESPN(IST), 17/08/08. 
Scoreline prediction: 2-0