Bridge Banter: Bees clash is must win for Chelsea

First published in Sport

Despite his nose still throbbing from a boot in the face at Newcastle, Demba Ba is tipped to start up front when Chelsea host the Bees in the FA Cup at the Bridge this weekend.
 

It’s a must-win game for the Blues, whose season threatens to fade to nothing without the excitement of silverware.
 

Rumours had been swirling round SW6 that Rafa Benitez’s brief reign might be ending if he failed to overcome Wigan last week, but the comfortable 4-1 victory bought him more time.
 

A Stamford Bridge insider tells me that when Dan Sturridge was being lined up for a transfer to Liverpool, Benitez presented the Chelsea board with a five-name wish-list of replacement strikers.
 

Ba’s name was not on that list, suggesting that decision-making is largely out of Rafa’s hands.
 

After several weeks in which the fans’ salute to former boss Roberto Di Matteo in the 16th minute of every game had started to wane, the applause and chanting was louder than ever when Wigan visited.
 

It was a match which saw the sprinty Brazilian Ramires open the scoring and Eden Hazard double the lead before Shaun Maloney pegged one back for Wigan with an inventive flick from a tight angle.
 

Frank Lampard scored late on to make the game safe, and Marko Marin headed home his first goal for the Blues in stoppage time to cap a good win.
 

Brentford’s spies in the stand, plotting the downfall of Chelsea in the FA Cup replay, had plenty to think about as the Blues turned on the style for long spells of the match.
 

But the Bees know that Chelsea’s hit-and-miss form of late means a giant-killing upset is not beyond the realms of possibility, provided they keep things as tight as they did at Griffin Park on January 27.
 

Europa League distractions for the Blues can only play into the hands of Uwe Rosler’s men.
 

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