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Reading 'pose stern test for Chelsea'

22 August 2012, 12:37

England - Brazilian midfielder Ramires has recovered from illness and could feature for Chelsea against promoted Reading in the European champions' first home Premier League match of the new season on Wednesday. Kick-off is at 8:45pm CAT (SA, GMT+2), Live on SS3, SS HD3 and supersport.com

Coach Roberto Di Matteo said he expected a stern challenge from the visitors to Stamford Bridge for a match re-arranged because Chelsea face Europa League winners Atletico Madrid in the European Supercup match in Monaco next week.

Reading, back in the top flight after four seasons in the Championship, drew 1-1 at home to Stoke on Saturday and Di Matteo said he would not be taking them lightly.

"I'm very wary of newly promoted teams like Reading and Southampton," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"It's a very difficult game when you play a newly promoted team early on, full of enthusiasm and spirit. You sometimes look at it and think you don't want to change a winning team but it doesn't always work like that.

"Ramires is fine, (Marko) Marin is still out, so apart from his hamstring injury we are okay. It won't be long, but it might not be before the international break, we will have to see.

Di Matteo said Chelsea were looking to integrate Brazil midfielder Oscar gradually into their squad. "He hasn't been with us long so we have to give him the right time to get used to his new teammates, the club and the team, do some tactical work with him and slowly put him into the team."

Chelsea opened their league campaign with a 2-0 win at Wigan Athletic on Sunday and are looking to win their opening two league matches for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons.

They also have a fine record against promoted teams at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 33 home matches against them stretching back over 11 years, since losing 1-0 to Charlton Athletic in April 2001.

Reading have drawn three and lost the other three of their six league visits to the Bridge.

Di Matteo was full of praise for Reading manager Brian McDermott, whose side won automatic promotion last season.

"He has done a wonderful job. They had a great run in the second half of the season. I followed the Championship a lot and they're difficult to play against.

"They don't concede many goals and are a threat on the counter-attack. I always found it hard to play against Brian McDermott's teams."

- Reuters


WRAP: English Premiership

23 October 2016, 09:33

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