Chelsea v Birmingham preview
FA Cup provides welcome distraction for Villas-Boas
Last Updated: 17/02/12 3:27pm
Andre Villas-Boas' Chelsea 'project' enters a new phase on Saturday when his side take on Birmingham in the FA Cup fifth round.
After going down 2-0 at Everton in the Premier League last Saturday, Villas-Boas has found himself under scrutiny.
The Portuguese manager, in his first season in charge at Chelsea, admitted not all of the players support his ideas, but feels he retains the backing of owner Roman Abramovich.
He is set to again be without his skipper John Terry, who has been sidelined for the last three weeks by a knee injury.
Terry returned to full training this week but, with the first leg of their last 16 UEFA Champions League clash against Napoli on Tuesday in mind, is unlikely to be risked.
Ashley Cole (calf) is also doubtful, Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou will only be available in midweek after returning from Africa Cup of Nations, but Ramires could return from a knee injury.
Birmingham head to Stamford Bridge unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions, a run based on a defence that has conceded just three goals since the turn of the year.
And manager Chris Hughton has promised his Championship promotion-chasing side will go all out to cause a shock despite the potential for a cup run to stretch his small squad to the limit.
Birmingham have already claimed on Premier League scalp in the competition, knocking out Wolves in the third round, but must do without strikers Marlon King (groin), Nikola Zigic (knee) and midfielder Guirane N'Daw (hamstring) in west London.
Chelsea v Birmingham
Andre Villas-Boas is looking for Chelsea to break out of an alarming dip when they return to UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.
Andre Villas-Boas was disappointed to see Chelsea held by Birmingham but claims a team meeting last weekend had the desired effect on his side.
Birmingham starlet Nathan Redmond says the speculation linking him with a host of top clubs has only made him work harder.