Chelsea can have little cause for complaint against the red card shown to Ramires for a late, heinous challenge on Karim El Ahmadi in the 1-0 loss against Aston Villa foreseen on these pages.
However, a potential three-match suspension for the man who has started 27 of the Blues’ 30 Premier League games will certainly be giving Jose Mourinho reasons to be fearful as the title race reaches a crucial phase.
Arsenal will be delighted to see the industrious Brazilian in the cooler, with a trip to Stamford Bridge next up, yet the numbers suggest the even money about a home win may be all the more worth backing in Ramires’ absence.
Mourinho’s side have won 60 per cent of their 35 games in which the man in the monikered mask has started this term, drawing 23 per cent and losing 17 per cent.
Yet without the feisty, tireless work of one of the boss’ most trusted lieutenants they’ve won 78 per cent of their nine outings, drawing 11 per cent and losing the same proportion.
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After all the opposition swatted aside on home territory in Ramires’ absence were no back-numbers, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton disposed of.
Meanwhile, the battling qualities he embodies were not missed in a 1-0 FA Cup win against Potteries toughs Stoke City.
Frank Lampard’s wise head was employed in three of the aforementioned four fixtures and he’s expected to come in alongside towering Serb Nemanja Matic in the Blues’ deep-lying midfield twosome.
If not Lampard then Mourinho could call upon David Luiz, who played alongside Lampard in the victory over Liverpool as well as with Matic in the 1-0 win at the Etihad that blew the title race wide open.
Chelsea are 39/20 second-favourites to win the league for third time under Mourinho despite leading the table by five points.