Five straight winless games have cranked up the pressure on Andre Villas-Boas, leaving the prospect of another setback against Bolton on Saturday unthinkable for the Chelsea manager.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich even forced the 34-year-old Portuguese coach to defend his decision to drop experienced players in the Champions League loss at Napoli on Wednesday.
Languishing in fifth place in the Premier League, Chelsea's mission is to move back into the fourth Champions League place.
Chelsea's misfortunes have taken some of the heat off Arsenal, which hosts Tottenham on Sunday.
Manchester rivals City and United lead the way in the league. City hosts Blackburn on Saturday and United is at Norwich the following day.