THE CHELSEA WEEK HOME AND AWAY
In this round-up, we take a look at how current Blues are doing away from Stamford Bridge, find out how our Champions League opponents are getting on domestically, before previewing the week ahead…
Our Merseyside-based duo had rare, quiet weekends. Romelu Lukaku played the full 90 minutes in Everton's 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace while Victor Moses made a late substitute appearance in Liverpool's 4-0 victory over Fulham.
Todd Kane played another 90 minutes for Blackburn as they slipped to a 3-0 loss at Brighton. Josh McEachran, now with Watford, returned to his former club, Middlesbrough, and played the last 20 minutes as the Hornets conceded a last-minute goal to draw 2-2.
There was FA Cup first round action this weekend for those in League One. Sam Walker was unfortunate to score an own goal after he couldn't keep out an already heavily-deflected cross, his Colchester side eventually slipping to a 3-2 loss at home to Sheffield United.
There were comfortable cup victories for Milan Lalkovic and George Saville - at Walsall and Brentford respectively - and Patrick Bamford also played 90 minutes, for MK Dons, in their 4-1 over Halifax Town. On Friday, the striker was rewarded for his impressive recent performances with the League 1 Player of the Month award for October, a month in which he scored four goals.
Looking further afield, our Vitesse Arnhem contingent had a weekend to remember as they went clear at the top of the Eredivisie. There was a first Vitesse goal for Christian Atsu, who scored a first-half penalty, won by Lucas Piazon. The Brazilian and Patrick van Aanholt both struck the woodwork as Vitesse eventually ran out 3-1 winners. Gael Kakuta replaced Piazon late on while Sam Hutchinson remained an unused substitute.
Elsewhere in Holland, Stipe Perica started for the first time in NAC Breda colours, playing his part in an impressive 2-1 victory over PSV Eindhoven.
In Belgium, it was a memorable week for Thorgan Hazard, pictured above, who scored his first European goal for Zulte Waregem. It was a crucial one, too, as his successful penalty proved the difference between the West Flanders side and Maribor. Hazard and Zulte travel to Wigan on the next Europa League matchday knowing a win will put them in pole position to qualify from Group D in second place. The attacking midfielder also got 90 minutes on Sunday as his side won 2-0 and moved up to third.
In Spain, Thibaut Courtois conceded late on as Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Villarreal; earlier in the week their comprehensive 4-0 win over Austria Vienna booked their place in the next round of the Champions League. Oriol Romeu got a 90-minute outing for Valencia in midweek, as they triumphed 3-2 at St Gallen in the Europa League, but he was back on the bench this weekend.
Champions League opponents
Schalke recovered from their midweek loss at Stamford Bridge with a 3-1 win at home to Werder Bremen. They had to come from behind to pick up the three points that leaves them sixth in the Bundesliga table.
Our other Group E opponents, Basel and Steaua Bucharest, had no game this weekend.
The Chelsea week ahead
With club football taking a back seat for the last time until March, a healthy number of our squad head off on international duty this week. Our African contingent are the only players with competitive action ahead, in the shape of the second leg of their World Cup play-offs.
Samuel Eto'o and his Cameroon side host Tunisia on Sunday in Yaoundé with the tie delicately poised at 0-0. Ghana, including Michael Essien, take a 6-1 lead to Cairo to face Egypt, while John Mikel Obi, Kenneth Omeruo and Victor Moses's Nigeria host Ethiopia on Saturday in Calabar, 2-1 up from the first leg.
We'll have a full international preview here on the official Chelsea website shortly.
Those players not representing their countries this week have the day off today and return to training tomorrow afternoon. They'll also be in on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before enjoying the weekend off.