BA: TIME TO SHINE
If selected for tomorrow's match against Basel, Demba Ba will play Champions League football for the first time in his career, and the Blues striker is relishing the opportunity to test himself against a strong European side.
Jose Mourinho's side mark our return to the competition with a game against a team we need no introduction to having played them over two legs in last season's Europa League, coming out on top on both occasions, winning 2-1 away and 3-1 in the return.
Ba, having represented Newcastle United prior to moving to Stamford Bridge, was unable to play any part in that particular competition, but he, along with the rest of our players, is aware of the quality our opponents possess.
'We know a little bit about them from what we saw last season when we played them, and we will be doing everything we can to counter them and win the game,' he said.
'They have some good forward players and a squad who have played together for a long time, they are used to playing with each other and that's a key point.'
Ba enjoyed a memorable debut for the Blues following his switch from St James's Park, scoring a brace in a 5-1 FA Cup win at Southampton last January.
Since that day, he has experienced some highs in a Chelsea shirt, most notably scoring a spectacular goal which eliminated Manchester United from the same competition, but admits he hasn't reached the standards he sets himself.
'I haven't played as well as I did at Newcastle and West Ham,' he acknowledged. 'I needed time to settle, I work hard and I believe the rewards come with hard work.
'I'm not looking at any causes outside myself, I would just say that if I'd played very well I would have played every game, and if I haven't played every game it's because I haven't played well enough.'
Having only started one game so far this season - the 2-1 win over Aston Villa - Ba was linked with a loan move away from the club during the summer transfer window, but after discussing his future with Jose Mourinho, the Senegalese striker is now looking forward to playing a significant role for the remainder of the campaign.
'I told him if I stay I will keep fighting for the club and the flag,' said Ba. 'Now what matters is the next months and years with Chelsea, that's it.
'This (moving) is part of football but it didn't happen. I'm a good professional and I've always worked hard for what I have and I will continue to do the same.
'I wanted to play and I still want to play. It all depends on me and the performances I put in on the pitch. If I play well I will deserve to play and the manager will put me on the pitch because that's the way he is, if I don't it will be my fault.'
Much has been made of our start to the season domestically following Saturday's 1-0 reverse at Everton, but having already won twice and drawn away at Manchester United there is certainly no need to panic.
Tomorrow's game provides the perfect opportunity to bounce back from the disappointment on Merseyside, and Ba is hopeful we can get our Champions League campaign off to the best possible start.
'Every game we want to win, it doesn't add any pressure, we will just do everything we can to win the game,' said the striker.
- Gigi Salmon and Jody Morris will be live in the Chelsea TV studio on Wednesday with Matchnight Live. Tune in for the latest team news and interviews with Jose Mourinho and a first team player.