Jan 1, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT
If Wednesday’s win at St. Mary’s was any indication, Chelsea should be able to compensate for the injury absences of Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic, even if both veterans will miss more time than originally expected. After the Blues’ 3-0 win over Southampton, Chelsea manager José Mourinho confirmed each of his starters will be out until the end of January, an absence that sideline the veteran duo from Manchester United’s Jan. 19 visit to Stamford Bridge.
Both suffered their injuries Sunday against Liverpool, with Ivanovic’s knee forcing him from Chelsea’s 2-1 victory after 30 minutes. Lampard, suffering a muscle injury, was taken off at halftime.
With Lampard out, Mourinho started John Obi Mikel and Ramires in midfield against the Saints, with David Luiz having made his first start of the season in that role on Sunday against the Reds. With Luiz out for Wednesday’s visit to Southampton, Micheal Essien made a rare appearance off the bench, the team’s injury concerns in the middle giving the Ghanian his fourth game of the season.
In the absence of Ivanovic, Ashley Cole has been restored to the starting XI, with Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta shifting from left back to his natural position on the right. After failing to make a league appearance from Nov. 2 until Dec. 26, Cole has now appeared in three games in a row, starting against Swansea and Southampton.
Chelsea’s most notable match over the next four weeks is Jan. 19’s visit from Manchester United. Surrounding that game, the Blues face second tier Derby in the FA Cup (Jan. 5) before visiting Hull (Jan. 11) and hosting West Ham (Jan. 29), with another FA Cup game to be added should Chelsea win or draw at Pride Park.
Before missing Wednesday’s game, Ivanovic had started every Premier League match this season, scoring his only goal in the Blues’ 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Aug. 21.
Pre-injury, Lampard had appeared in 18 games, 13 in a starting role, while recording four goals and three assists. The 35-year-old has scored double-digit goals in 10 straight Premier League seasons.
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