Kezman looks to fill breach at Chelsea by ending goal drought

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The Independent Football

One man's disgrace is another man's opportunity. The question is whether Mateja Kezman will tonight take the chance handed to him by Adrian Mutu's positive drug test and estrangement from Jose Mourinho.

One man's disgrace is another man's opportunity. The question is whether Mateja Kezman will tonight take the chance handed to him by Adrian Mutu's positive drug test and estrangement from Jose Mourinho.

With Didier Drogba injured, Mourinho has no choice but to pair Kezman with Eidur Gudjohnsen against CSKA Moscow at Stamford Bridge. This should not be a worry. The Serbian came to England having established a reputation as a prolific goalscorer with Partizan Belgrade and PSV Eindhoven. However, he has yet to score in 10 appearances with Chelsea and has rarely looked like doing so.

Closer study of Kezman's record reveals the £5m signing may have done well in the weak Dutch and Serbian leagues but has scored three times in 26 Champions' League matches. The question looms: Is Kezman the footballing equivalent of cricket's flat-track bullies?

Mourinho, in between deflecting questions about Mutu, professed no doubts yesterday. "He is a great goalscorer," the Chelsea coach said. "He has not become a bad player overnight. I am confident he will score tomorrow. He has not played many games in the Champions' League and never played for a powerful team."

This inaccurate and disingenuous answer - Ruud van Nistelrooy scored plenty of goals for PSV in Europe - hides a real concern. Chelsea have scored just eight goals in nine Premiership matches and Mourinho admits he is puzzled.

"We have had 124 chances in nine matches," he said. "It is the best in the Premier League. But we have not scored enough of them. I try to study why but I don't know why. But we work so hard, and the players are so good, everything will change.

"At the moment I am short of strikers but it is a special situation. I still have Kezman and Gudjohnsen and I trust them."

Drawing a blank on Saturday resulted in Chelsea's first defeat of the season. Mourinho expects a good response. "Nobody likes to lose. We do not lose much and we did not enjoy the taste. I have no doubts my players will give me a good answer."

Chelsea's 100th match in Europe is a strange one as Roman Abramovich, their owner, is also CSKA's main sponsor. Uefa, the sport's governing body, investigated Abramovich's links with the Muscovite club when the draw was made, concluding that there was no reason to believe he was controlling CSKA.

As might be expected, Mourrinho had his own unique take. "My information is that Mr Abramovich's company just sponsors the shirts. If I had that money I could pay CSKA to wear 'Jose Mourinho' on their shirts, but I would still want to kill them if I played them.

"I can imagine for Mr Abramovich and [Chelsea player] Aleksei [Smertin] it will be a special feeling, but for the rest of us it is one more game."

Victory would effectively seal Chelsea's progress to the knock-out stage.

Chelsea (probable 4-1-3-2): Cech; Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Bridge; Makelele; Smertin, Lampard, Duff; Gudjohnsen, Kezman.

CSKA Moscow (probable 4-4-2): Akinfeev; Semberas, Ignashevich, A Berezoutski, Odiah; Zhirkov, Jarosik, Aldonin, Rahimic; Semak, Love. Referee: L Michel (Slovakia).

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