Sunday, August 18, 2013

(Sports) EPL UPDATE

Jose Mourinho will open his second spell in charge of Chelsea with a home date against Premier League new boys Hull City.

The return of Mourinho to English football has created quite a buzz - and not just around Stamford Bridge.

Having guided Chelsea to five major honours during his first stint in west London - including two Premier League titles - the Portuguese tactician will be hoping to sprinkle his magic dust over the Blues once again.

He has wasted little time in reshaping a squad inherited from interim coach Rafa Benitez and will want to ensure that the struggles of recent years - which have left Chelsea sweating on their involvement in the UEFA Champions League - are put firmly to one side.

While nothing less than a charge towards the top flight crown will be accepted by the Blues, Hull City would be happy to end the campaign with a standing among English football's elite safely cemented.

The Tigers lasted two seasons the last time they graced this level, but will need no reminding how difficult it can be for sides stepping out of the Championship to find their feet at the top table.

Steve Bruce's experience could be crucial, and he will be looking to get points on the board early to help calm any nerves and avoid making the 2013/14 campaign more of a challenge than it is already shaping up to be.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard continued his return from an Achilles injury with a substitute run-out for England in their 3-2 friendly victory over Scotland on Wednesday and could come into consideration for a starting berth.

David Luiz and Juan Mata have been nursing knocks through pre-season, restricting their involvement, and Mourinho has regularly expressed that he will not be rushing either back into action.

Summer signings Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle will be hoping to make their Premier League bows at some stage, but veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer will have to make do with a place on the bench as he looks to challenge Petr Cech for the number one spot.

Hull City manager Bruce is expected to blood a host of summer signings in the capital on Sunday.

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor, defenders Maynor Figueroa and Curtis Davies and strikers Danny Graham and Yannick Sagbo have all been heavily involved in pre-season, while midfield pair Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore go straight into the squad following their arrival from Tottenham Hotspur this week.

Republic of Ireland international Stephen Quinn is the only senior player carrying an injury and will miss out with a hamstring complaint.FOOTBALL LIVE