Champions League: Grant needs win to settle Chelsea squad

After drawing in Greece, Chelsea lost the League Cup final to Tottenham, prompting reports that players were unhappy with the coach.

avram grant 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
avram grant 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Chelsea responded to speculation over unrest in its squad with a convincing win in its last game. Another one against Olympiakos on Wednesday would put it into the Champions League quarterfinals. After it drew 0-0 in Greece two weeks ago, Chelsea lost England's League Cup final to Tottenham with a performance so disjointed it prompted reports that the players are unhappy with coach Avraham Grant and his tactics. But Chelsea rebounded with a 4-0 Premier League win at West Ham which kept it in the title race and boosted its preparations for the visit of Olympiakos. "I try not to get involved too much in all the drama," Joe Cole said. "My job is to try to perform the best I can when selected." Cole's omission from the League Cup final lineup coincided with a lack of creativity and fewer options on the left side of the team, and he scored on his return to the team against West Ham. Cole and Michael Ballack, who also marked his return to the team with a goal against the Hammers, could retain their places at Stamford Bridge, although Grant may decide to bring Michael Essien into the midfield and restore Didier Drogba in attack. That would likely relegate Claude Makelele and Nicolas Anelka to the bench. The selection of in-form players in their usual positions could give the Blues the attacking spark they lacked in Greece. "We defended very comfortably but we didn't threaten their goal enough," Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard said. "But, in Europe, sometimes you have to make sure you don't concede first and foremost. "Maybe we could have been a bit more of an attacking threat, but we weren't and that's why we have to make sure we are very concentrated at home." That shouldn't be too much of a problem for Chelsea, which hasn't lost at home in the Premier League for four years - a record run of 76 matches - and was last defeated at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League by eventual winner FC Barcelona in February 2006. "It is a great pressure and we have been in this situation before, which could help us," Joe Cole said. Olympiakos's hopes of springing the biggest surprise so far in this season's tournament were hit when key striker Lomano LuaLua was ruled out of the match with a dislocated shoulder. But Lampard is still not expecting an easy match, even with Olympiakos only in second place in the comparatively weak Greek league after a 1-1 draw at home to unheralded Asteras. "They play a very strong and compact game and are dangerous on the counterattack so perhaps they are set up to try and come away and nick a goal," Lampard said. "It's not over yet."