Cardiff City-Chelsea Preview

The Associated Press

Home for their first match in nearly a month, Chelsea seek to stay within striking distance of the Premier League leaders Saturday when they host Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea (4-2-1) are two points behind Arsenal and Liverpool for the top spot and went into the international break with three wins and a draw in four road matches across all competitions. The most recent one was a 3-1 victory at Norwich City on Oct. 6 as Eden Hazard and Willian scored a minute apart late in the contest to snap a 1-1 draw.

Oscar, who scored the other goal in that victory, continued his scintillating run of form with goals in both of Brazil's friendlies over the recess - victories over South Korea and Zambia. German forward Andre Schurrle, though, may have stolen his teammate's thunder with a stunning hat trick in a 19-minute span as Die Mannschaft completed their successful World Cup qualifying campaign with a 5-3 victory over Sweden.

Germany coach Joachim Low was pleased Schurrle's improved work rate at the club level carried over to international play and is expecting more of the same to claim a roster spot for Brazil next summer.

"I told him recently that last year I wasn't very happy with his development, but now, in some games with us and in England, he has shown what he can do," Low told the team's official website. "He is dynamic, works back well and has a strong finish.

"If he continues to play like that, the World Cup will certainly not pass him by."

A goal by a striker would be a welcome site at Chelsea - none of their forwards have found the back of the net in league play.

Manager Jose Mourinho, though, may have to make at least one change to his backline since Ashley Cole missed both of England's qualifiers with a rib injury.

Mourinho will again put his unbeaten record in league play at Stamford Bridge on the line, entering this match with 49 wins and 14 draws.

Cardiff City (2-2-3) have proven a tough out on the road despite being the new boys on the block, taking four points from three matches outside Wales thus far. This is partly due to a better possession rate - their 54 percent mark is staggeringly better than their 40 percent mark at home.

The Bluebirds went into the international break following a 2-1 home defeat to Newcastle United on Oct. 5, failing to find an equaliser after Peter Odemwingie halved the deficit in the 58th minute. Cardiff City placed only two of their eight shots on goal and are still gun shy about shooting - their 67 total shots are tied for second-fewest in the Premier League.

One Bluebirds player who may not be bashful at Stamford Bridge would be veteran Craig Bellamy, who has three goals in his last three matches versus Chelsea. The midfielder, who notched an assist in his final appearance for Wales on Tuesday, has taken just three shots in six matches this season.

That may make for easy work for goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is in line to become the third player in Chelsea history to appear in 300 Premier League matches, joining fellow stalwarts Frank Lampard and John Terry.

Chelsea stormed to a 4-1 home victory in the last meeting between the teams in the fifth round of the 2010 FA Cup, and this will be their first match in league play since 1984.

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