Chelsea vs Sheffield Wednesday – FA Cup Match Preview: 27th January

Chelsea host Sheffield Wednesday in the 4th round of the FA Cup looking to move a step closer to defending the trophy that they won against Mourinho’s Manchester United in May of last season.

The Blues come into this game on the back of their vital penalty shootout win midweek in the Carabao Cup Semi-Final against Tottenham at the Bridge.

Meanwhile, their opponents Sheffield Wednesday make the trip to Stamford Bridge sitting in 16th place in the Championship table, but the Owls have prevailed in their last two fixtures in all competitions.

So the Sheffield side will be coming into this game in good confidence that they can perhaps cause an upset at the bridge, by either beating the West-London Club, or taking the tie to a replay at Hillsborough.

Recent form in all competitions

Chelsea- DWLWLW

Sheffield Wednesday- DDDLWW

Is this game televised in the UK?

Yes. The coverage of the match starts at 5:45pm on BBC One, with kick off being at 6:00pm.

Team News

Chelsea

Chelsea assistant  coach- Gianfranco Zola has suggested that Higuain will make his debut at the weekend, and the loanee could potentially replace Olivier Giroud in attack.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has returned to training after a back problem, but the England international is only likely to be named among the substitutes.

Sarri will make several alterations with Willy Caballero, Andreas ChristensenEthan AmpaduWillian and Callum Hudson-Odoi all in contention to feature in the first eleven.

Sheffield Wednesday

Wednesday will be without defender Michael Hector – who is unable to feature against his parent club – while Joshua Onomah remains absent and will return to training next week.

The rest of the starting lineup could remain the same, with Steven Fletcher staying in the team ahead of Atdhe Nuhiu. However the Kosavan International scored the vital goal to send Wednesday through the the 4th round after their 0-1 win in their 3rd round replay away to Chelsea. So he still start this game.

Predicted starting Line-Ups

Chelsea predicted starting eleven- Caballero, Zappacosta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso, Kante, Ampadu, Kovacic, Willian, Higuain, Hudson-Odoi.

Sheffield Wednesday predicted starting eleven- Westwood, Palmer, Lees, Thorniley, Fox, Hutchinson, Reach, Matias, Bannan, Boyd, Fletcher.

Manager Comments

Chelsea assistant manager: Gianfranco Zola (Quotes Credit- @NizaarKinsella on Twitter)

Zola on work rate sparked by Sarri criticism last night: “I don’t know, it might be, the players wanted to go to the final. They showed a lot of personality and a good attitude.” Adds he doesn’t know where the mentality change came from.

Zola on Sarri criticism of his players: “I appreciate that the players took it intelligently and reacted in the right way.”

Zola on Higuain making his debut on Sunday: “It is an opportunity. There are players who need to be rested but to be honest we haven’t discussed it.”

Zola on Morata: “There is an interest and I believe they are working on it. I don’t know [if he is in Madrid or here].” Adds Moses is speaking to Fenerbahce, says it is a pity he couldn’t break in under Sarri as he’s a top professional.

Zola on ‘Cesc Fabregas replacement’: “I don’t know it is something we are talking about with the club. It is certainly an area where we could do, there could be a problem if we have an injury. There’s a good understanding between Maurizio and Marina.”

Zola on Hazard: “I think I have an idea of Eden. What he showed me yesterday, the reaction yesterday is of a great player and I hope to see it until the rest of the season. It is important to react that way. I was really impressed and pleased”

Sheffield Wednesday temporary manager: Steve Agnew (Quotes Credit- @swfc official Twitter)

SA: Everyone is looking fit and ready, Fernando has had a good week and will travel with the squad. Josh Onomah will return next week, Matt Penney has had a shoulder operation and will be out until mid April.

SA: Obviously Chelsea have gone on to be unbelievably successful over the years, it’s a fantastic fixture to be involved in and we’re all looking forward to the tie.

SA: We have 6,000 supporters going to the game also looking forward and there has been a buzz about the place this week.

SA: We had to show a lot of spirit to overcome a good Luton side away from home in the last round and I feel the players are ready to meet this next challenge head on.

SA: Our povelayers are fresh, fit and ready. We have tried to give them some new forward thinking positive ideas but we have to be realistic, they have top, top players. We will have to show full concentration.

SA: It’s a loss for us because Michael Hector has been fantastic in recent weeks. But it’s football and that means someone else will get a chance and like I say, the training has been fantastic this week and we have options

Head to Head record

These two sides have met 123 times over the years, and Surpisingly Sheffield Wednesday have a slightly better head to head record than the Blues over the years.

Chelsea have beaten the Sheffield club on 37 occasions in all competitions. There have been 45 draws between these two sides over the years. Sheffield Wednesday have beaten the Blues on 41 occasions over the years in all competitions.

In terms of FA Cup head to head record, Chelsea do hold the advantage over the owls in that category. Chelsea have won on 8 occasions against the Sheffield club in the FA Cup. There have been 6 draws between these two sides in the FA Cup. The Owls have only beaten Chelsea 2 times in the FA Cup.

In terms of the most recent meetings. The last time these two sides met was in the 1999/2000 Premiership, when Sheffield Wednesday beat Chelsea 1-0 at Hillsborough.

The last meeting in the FA Cup between these two sides 1998/1999 season, when Chelsea beat Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 at Hillsborough.

Betting Odds/My Prediction

Betfair have made Chelsea clear favourites for this FA Cup tie, with a Blues win being priced at 6/5. A draw between these sides which would take this tie to a replay at Hillsborough is being priced at 6/1. A shock Sheffield Wednesday upset is being priced at 4/7.

First goalscorer odds (Betfair)

  • Eden Hazard: 16/5
  • Gonzalo Higuain: 16/5
  • Steven Fletcher: 10/1
  • Lucas Joao: 12/1

My Prediction for this game is a 3-1 Chelsea win, with Higuain scoring one goal on his debut. The other Chelsea goals will come for Hudson-Odoi who I reckon will score two goals. Sheffield Wednesday will score a consolation goal through Atdhe Nuhiu.

Leave me down your scored predictions in the comments.

By Danyal Khan

Chelsea vs Tottenham: Carabao Cup Semi-Final second leg: 24th January

Chelsea face Tottenham at Stamford Bridge in the second leg of the Carabao Cup.

The Blues are looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg, to progress to the final of the cup.

Harry Kane’s penalty was the difference between the two sides at Wembley. Arguably Chelsea were the better team and deserved a positive result from the first leg, however lacking a focal point upfront costed them in that game.

The winner of this Semi-Final is Very likely to face Manchester City in the final, as they are in action tonight against Burton Albion in the second leg of their semi-final at the Pirelli Stadium.

And unless a miracle happens, the Manchester club will progress to the final, as they are 9-0 up on aggregate from the first leg.

Tottenham come into this second leg in better form than the Blues, after their Vital 2-1 win away to Fulham in the London derby on the weekend. Whereas the Blues suffered a humiliating 2-0 defeat Arsenal in another London derby on the weekend.

The result of the Arsenal game infuriated Maurizio Sarri, he accused his players of many things, including the fact that they are apparently ‘difficult to motivate’ according to the Italian boss. Sarri will be looking for a positive reaction from his team tomorrow, as they look to get back on the right track.

Recent for both teams in all competitions

Chelsea- WDWLWL

Tottenham-  LWWWLW

Team News

Chelsea

Chelsea have no fresh injury news.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is out for this game as he is still recovering from his back injury.

Chelsea face Sheffield Wednesday on the weekend in the FA Cup, so that is probably the game where Maurizio Sarri will make mass changes to his side.

So his side that he picked for the Arsenal game will probably be a similar side to the one fielded tomorrow, with maybe a few alterations.

Chelsea have looked short of firepower against the top teams, and that could lead to Olivier Giroud being drafted into the starting lineup at the expense of Willian/Pedro.

It is still remained to be seen whether or not Higuain will be eligible to play against Tottenham tomorrow. But if he did sign in time, The Argentine striker will most likely make a cameo appearance from the bench.

Tottenham

Tottenham are hit with an injury crisis at the moment.

Dele Alli is the latest player to be added to the list after he sustained a hamstring strain, which will keep him out until March. The other players on that injury list include Kane and Sissoko.

Son is away with South Korea at the Asia Cup, so will not feature in this match.

The return of Eric Dier has provided Pochettino with an extra option, and that could lead to the defensive-minded player being used alongside Harry Winks in midfield.

Lucas Moura is nearing a comeback after a knee problem, but the Brazilian may only be named among the replacements with each of Erik Lamela and Fernando Llorente staying in the starting lineup.

Predicted Line-Ups for both sides

Chelsea predicted starting eleven- Kepa, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.

Tottenham predicted starting eleven- Lloris, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Trippier, Dier, Winks, Davies, Eriksen, Lamela, Llorente.

Head to Head record

Chelsea and Tottenham have met on 162 occasions over the years in all competitions with the Blues having a better head to head record overall compared to Spurs. The Blues have beaten their London rivals on 68 occasions in all competitions. There have been 40 draws between these two sides over the years. Tottenham have also beaten Chelsea on 54 occasions.

In recent years, Spurs have had a good head to head record against the Blues, but historically Chelsea have a better head to head record.

In terms of the League Cup head to head, Chelsea just edges it, with the Blues beating Spurs 4 times over the years in the League Cup (Known now as the Carabao Cup). There have been 2 draws between these two sides in the League Cup. And Spurs have beaten Chelsea 3 times now in the League Cup after their 1-0 win in the first leg recently.

Betting Odds/My Prediction

Betfair has priced Chelsea to qualify at 4/5. And they have priced Tottenham to qualify at 5/6. So Betfair doesn’t think there is a clear winner from this tie, and therefore there isn’t much splitting the sides in terms of the betting odds.

First goalscorer odds (Betfair)

  • Eden Hazard: 4/1
  • Olivier Giroud: 9/2
  • Lucas Moura: 12/1
  • Fernando Llorente: 17/2

My realistic prediction for this game is a 1-1 draw.

But my optimistic prediction for this game is a 3-1 Chelsea win. I just have a feeling that the players will respond well after they were criticised by Sarri at the weekend. I also think Chelsea will be helped in this match considering the fact that Tottenham are going through an injury crisis at the moment. I think two goals from Hazard and one from Giroud will help Chelsea progress to the final. Tottenham’s goal will come through Llorente.

Leave me down below your scored predictions for this match in the comments.

By Danyal Khan

Tottenham vs Chelsea 1-0 Match Report and Player Ratings article: Carabao Cup – 8th January

Goals  Tottenham- Kane (26′)

             Chelsea- None

The game started at a fast tempo with both teams showing positive signs early on. Son had a penalty shout early on after a long ball over the top of Chelsea’s defence caused havoc, and led to a tangle between Christensen and Son with the referee and VAR ruling that it wasn’t a foul to Chelsea’s relief. For Chelsea early on Barkley had a long-range shot which hit the side netting.

The first real controversial moment of the game came in the 23rd minute when Kane was played by a long ball over the top of Chelsea’s defence. The English striker took the ball around Kepa and was wiped out. The original decision turned out to be offside but after a tw0 minute VAR check, Kane was ruled onside and therefore a penalty was given. Azpilicueta was the guilty party who played Tottenham onside. Kane slotted their resulting penalty in the net to give Tottenham a 1-0 lead.

Tottenham would be happy that VAR was in action for this game, as the original call was offside.

Chelsea took long to show a response, however, before half-time they rattled the woodwork twice. The first time was through Kante who got onto the end of an Alonso cross and his flick hit the outside post of Gazzaniga’s goal. The second was in injury time when Hudson-Odoi’s deflected cross left Gazzaniga scrambling, but the Argentina International pushed it onto the bar, as Tottenham went in at half-time 1-0 up.

This game called out for a Giroud. Hazard needed a target man to play off as he looked very isolated in the centre-forward position in the false nine.

The game was so uneventful in the second half. Kante had a long-range shot midway through the second half that was parried away by Gazzaniga. And the best chance of second half came from a Chelsea corner which was flicked on by Barkley and landed to an unmarked Christensen from close range who went with his wrong foot and consequently missed his chance from close range.

Tottenham were defensively resilient and sharp on the attack. Chelsea were defensively strong on the whole but had zero cutting edge going forward. So it is all to play for in the second leg, but if Chelsea want to win this game then they need to sign a striker before the return leg to even have a chance.

Match Statistics (Credit- BBC Sport)

                                    Tottenham                                  Chelsea

Possession (%)                 42                                                  58

Shots                                     6                                                     17

Shots on Target                4                                                      5

Corners                               2                                                      7

Fouls                                   10                                                     6

Manager and Player Ratings)

Tottenham (4-2-3-1)

Gazzaniga- 7 (Made some great saves to keep score at 1-0)

Trippier- 7 (Defensively solid)

Sánchez- 7 (Defensively solid)

Alderweireld- 7 (Defensively solid)

Rose- 7 (Defensively solid)

Winks- 7 (Played well in the midfield)

Sissoko- 6 (Tactically fouled Hazard so many times, but average on the whole)

Eriksen- 5 (Didn’t have a big impact on the game)

Alli- 5 (Average)

Son- 7 (Dangerous on the counter-attack)

Kane- 8 (Most dangerous player on the pitch. Nearly scored a wonderful overhead kick and

Subs:

Lamela- 5 (Average)

Skip- 5 (Brought on in the last minute)

Llorente- 5 (Brought on in the last minute)

Manager Rating: Mauricio Pochettino- 7- Set up his team to be defensively resilient which they were. But will they regret the fact that they didn’t try to score and kill off the game? Maybe Pochettino set up too defensively.

Chelsea (4-3-3)

Kepa- 6 (Brought down Kane for a penalty, but made one good save in the second half from long range Kane shot. Distribution was good)

Alonso- 6 (Delivered good cross for Kante in the first half. Goal saving tackle in the second half. Defensively suspect again.)

Christensen- 6 (Missed a good chance. Good defensively)

Rüdiger- 6 (Good defensively)

Azpilicueta- 4 (At fault for playing Kane onside for penalty. Poor at crossing the ball)

Jorginho- 4 (Didn’t  do anything of worth noting. Plays too safe)

Kante- 9 (Best player on the pitch. Good work-rate. Hit the post. Good defensively and had a few long shots which he got on target)

Barkley- 4 (Shots were poor)

Hudson-Odoi- 6 (Very bright in the first half. Died off in the second half)

Willian- 5 (Average)

Hazard- 6 (Worked hard but isolated. Needed a target man to start from the start)

Subs:

Pedro- 5 (Didn’t affect the game in any way)

Kovacic-5 (Average)

Giroud- 5 (Had little time to impact the game)

Manager Rating: Maurizio Sarri- 6- Picked his best team. Dominated the game. Giroud should have come on a lot earlier, but understandable as he has just returned from injury. Can’t deal with the fact that Chelsea doesn’t have a good enough striker.

What’s next for both teams

Tottenham host Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday at 4:30pm (UK time). Whilst Chelsea host Newcastle on Saturday in the 5:30pm (UK time) kick off. Both these two sides face off at Stamford Bridge in the second leg on Thursday the 24th of January.

Check out Chivers and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris’s Post-match analysis podcast on Sportstalkline.com later this week.

By Danyal Khan

TOTTENHAM VS CHELSEA – CARABAO CUP SEMI-FINAL (1ST LEG) MATCH PREVIEW: 8TH JANUARY

Tottenham Hotspur head into the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final with Chelsea looking to move a step closer to lifting their first trophy since 2008. They beat Chelsea on that occasion in the League Cup final (known as the Carling Cup at the time) 2-1 in 2008 at Wembley.

Chelsea make the short trip to Wembley Stadium keen to make amends for their 3-1 defeat to Spurs at the end of November. The Blues are looking for revenge, and if they do so- hoping to move closer to helping Sarri win his first trophy in his whole managerial career.

The West-London club will be looking for a positive result (either a draw or a win) to take back to Stamford Bridge, as they would fancy their chances in the second leg if the tie is still close after the first leg tomorrow.

Spurs come into this game on better form than Chelsea. Both teams were in FA Cup action at the weekend, with Tottenham thumping Tranmere 0-7 away from home. Whilst the Blues eased into the fourth round after their comfortable 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

Tottenham sit 4 points ahead of the Blues in 3rd place, whilst the Blues are placed in fourth in the Premier League.

What time is the game on? and is it on TV in the UK?

Kick off is at 8:00pm (UK time) tomorrow.

The game is televised in the UK on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football.

Recent Form in all competitions

Tottenham- WWWLWW

Chelsea- WLWWDW

Team News

Tottenham

Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele are all expected to be absent for Spurs, despite moving closer to a return from injury.

Lucas Moura is out for tomorrow’s game after the Brazilian sustained a knee injury against Tranmere Rovers on the weekend in the FA Cup.

Erik Lamela could be named on the bench after illness, as will Fernando Llorente despite his treble against Tranmere on Friday.

Hugo Lloris, Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen are all expected to start after not playing at Prenton Park against Tranmere Rovers.

Chelsea

Pedro is expected to return to training this week after a hamstring injury, but this game may come too soon for the Spaniard to feature in the first-team squad.

Willian is out of this game due to the knock sustained against Southampton last week. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is out of this game due to the back injury sustained against Nottingham Forest at the weekend in the FA Cup. Unfortunately, the Englishman is likely to be out for the rest of January.

The injuries to both Pedro and Willian may mean that Hudson-Odoi starts consecutive games for Chelsea. This could help Chelsea to get the youngster to sign a new contract as he is getting first team football at this moment. And if he keeps impressing- this could be his chance to breakthrough into the Chelsea eleven permanently.

This could be Alvaro Morata’s last game for Chelsea as he is heavily linked to make a move to either Sevilla or AC Milan. But this won’t happen unless Chelsea find a replacement before the window shuts.

Olivier Giroud could be on the bench for this game after recovering from his injury sustained against Crystal Palace at the end of December.

Mateo Kovacic may feature after illness, with the Croatian potentially replacing Ross Barkley who has started the last two fixtures.

Predicted starting eleven’s

Tottenham predicted starting eleven- Lloris, Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies, Sissoko, Winks; Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane.

Chelsea predicted starting eleven- Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Hazard.

Manager Comments

Tottenham Manager: Mauricio Pochettino

On tomorrow night’s game:  “We’ve started the new year very well, with victories at Cardiff and Tranmere. Now we are going to face another competition, the Carabao Cup and the semi-final. We know very well that it’s going to be again 180 minutes, two legs. We’re going to play the first leg against Chelsea and it’s going to be tough. Chelsea is a great team, a team that will be tough to beat. The tie is 50-50. It will be a very exciting game. Hope to have the possibility to win and go to Stamford Bridge in a very good position”

On Transfers: “I think it’s not dependent on some players leaving. It’s more about finding the right player who fits for us, not only in the football side but is going to be a player that fits in all the areas. We know very well that summer is always difficult but winter is worse. Sure for us it’s going to be difficult for us to add players. I don’t expect to add players but of course if in the end we have the opportunity to add the right players we are going to try, we are always open in trying to improve the squad but it’s not about players in if these players leave the squad. We will not operate like this.”

On Dembele’s situation and a reported bid from China: “I’ve heard nothing yet. I know like you there are a lot of rumours. In the moment the club communicate with me about something then we’ll communicate with you if something happens. But at the moment I don’t know anything. But like all the players we spoke about in previous press conferences, that business is a different part. The player, the club, the situation, that is so clear. It depends on what the different parts want to do. If something arrives we are going to listen and then it’s what we want to do or the player wants to do, it’s about to negotiate, talk, like always it happens in that business.”

Chelsea Manager: Maurizio Sarri (Quotes Credit- @NizaarKinsella Twitter account)

Sarri on injuries: “Pedro, Willian and Giroud are doing better. Yesterday they had training with the group. I don’t know if they will be able to play tomorrow. Not for 90 minutes. Loftus-Cheek is out now. We have to understand the situation with his back.

Sarri on Fabregas: “Cesc, no. I have no news about Cesc. I don’t know if he can play tomorrow, in the last match he had cramp in his calf. He needs to rest, I think.”

Sarri on reports of Fabregas flying to Monaco : “Yesterday he had a free day, so I don’t know [what he did].”

Sarri reveals that he allows Cesc to go to Monaco: “In my opinion he must go. He has an offer of two years.”

Sarri on Cagliari’s Barella being linked with a move to Chelsea: “If Cesc will go, of course, we need a replacement. Now with the midfielders, we are in trouble. The situation with Loftus-Cheek, I don’t know if it is serious or not, without Fabregas we are five.”

Sarri says Ampadu will replace Cahill, if he leaves Chelsea : “His mind is not completely involved in our situation. We have to wait. For Cahill, the situation is different. We have Ampadu so we don’t need a replacement.”

Sarri on Hudson-Odoi: “For me, he is an important player.”

Sarri says Hudson-Odoi is better off at Chelsea than Bayern: “I don’t think so because he is an English player, he is very young, he has a future. He has a future here in England, with the national team. He is important, I think.”

Sarri says Hudson-Odoi being an academy player is an asset:“I want good players but we are lucky because our academy is very very good. I think it is important because if you have five or six players from the academy, you have a soul, more than with 25 foreign players”

Sarri on Morata’s reaction to Forest goals: “It is more important to score than celebrate.” Adds he can have a good second part of the season.

Sarri on whether Morata is happy at Chelsea: “I hope so but I don’t know”

Sarri on Hudson-Odoi playing in the Premier League: “I think so, he is ready I think. We have important players in the same position, you want Willian or Pedro on the bench? He is ready”

Sarri on Spurs defeat: “We need to approach this match in another way because we lost that way in the first 15 minutes. They were more aggressive and determined than us. We know if the approach is the same then there’s no solution for us. I want to speak before about this”

Sarri says Chelsea’s intensity is more important than tactics but adds: “We will change tactics, I think.”

Sarri’s message to Chelsea fans, who will be under scrutiny for behaviour at Tottenham : “We need the support of our fans, of course, but we would like to have their support for us and not against the opponents.”

Head-to-Head record.

These two rivals have met each other 161 times over the years in all competitions with Chelsea having the better head to head record. Chelsea have beaten Spurs on 68 occasions in all competitions. There have been 40 draws between these two sides over the years. Spurs have beaten Chelsea 53 times in all competitions.

In terms of recent head to head record, Spurs have had the better of it- beating the Blues in their last two encounters which were in the League. The most recent encounter between these two sides came in November earlier this season when Tottenham beat Chelsea 3-1 at Wembley in the league.

In terms of League Cup/Carabao Cup head to head record, these two sides have met 8 times in this competition over the years, with Chelsea knocking Spurs out of the League Cup four times. There have been two draws in the Carabao Cup over the years between these two sides. And Spurs have beaten the Blues two times in the Carabao Cup.

The last encounter in the League Cup between these two sides, came in the League Cup final of the 2014/15 season (when it was known as the Capital One Cup), where John Terry and Diego Costa goals helped Chelsea win their first trophy of Mourinho’s second spell incharge of the Club.

Betting Odds/My Prediction

Bet 365 have made Tottenham’s favourites to win the first leg of this Carabao Cup semi-final against the Blues, and therefore take an advantage to the Bridge for the second leg. A Tottenham win is being priced at 11/10. A draw between these two sides in the first leg is being priced at 11/4. A Chelsea win is being priced at 5/2.

First goalscorer odds  (Betfair) (Source- Evening Standard)

  • Harry Kane- 10/3
  • Eden Hazard- 13/2
  • Lucas Moura- 13/2
  • Alvaro Morata- 15/2

My realistic prediction for this game is, unfortunately, a 2-1 win to Tottenham. I think the fact that we have an injury crisis doesn’t help, and with our injury crisis- I think that they have the stronger side. Furthermore, I think that they will edge the first leg. But a 2-1 loss for Chelsea isn’t a bad result, as they are more than capable of turning that deficit around at the Bridge where they have a good record against Tottenham.

My optimistic prediction as a Chelsea fan for this game is a 1-1 draw. I think they will go ahead through Kane in the first half, and we will get a last minute equaliser through Hudson-Odoi. I feel like this could be the youngsters moment to shine on the big stage.

What are your predictions for this game tomorrow evening? Comment down below…

By Danyal Khan

Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest 2-0 Match Report and Player Ratings article

An Alvaro Morata double in the second half, helped Chelsea pick up a comfortable 2-0 win in the 3rd round of the FA Cup at home to Nottingham Forest, in Cesc Fabregas’s farewell game.

The main story coming into this game was that this game will most likely be Cesc Fabregas’s farewell game in a Chelsea shirt, ahead of his proposed move to Monaco, where he will reunite with Thierry Henry.

The Spanish Maestro, therefore, wanted a perfect send-off, and to achieve this he would have wanted to play the perfect game and maybe score or assist in his last appearance for the Club.

He had chances to achieve the perfect send-off in the 30th minute then had a chance from the penalty spot after Loftus-Cheek was fouled by a Forest defender. However his tame and stuttery effort was well saved by Luke Steele in the Forest goal to the Spaniards frustration.

Chelsea went into half-time 0-0, which was a bit of a worry as an upset could have potentially been on the cards if Chelsea didn’t step it up in the first half. However they did step it up, and in the 49th minute, a Callum Hudson-Odoi low cross into the Forest box was turned in well by Morata to give Chelsea a 1-0  lead in this tie.

The Blues then pushed on in the second half and got the second goal in the 59th minute, when Callum Hudson-Odoi’s was headed home by Morata who out jumped Yacob to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead.

Forest then came to the party after going 2-0 down and had chances to grab a consolation goal through Murphy and Osborn which were not taken to Chelsea’s relief, as that would have set up a nervy ending for the Blues.

Fabregas was then subbed in the 85th minute for Kante to a standing ovation from the Stamford Bridge faithful, as Chelsea saw out a 2-0 win against Forest.

Player and Manager Ratings

Chelsea (4-3-3)

Caballero- 6 (Didn’t have much to do)

Zappacosta- 7 (Delivered a lovely cross in the first half onto the head of Morata)

Christensen- 6 (Calm and composed performance from the Danish International)

Luiz- 7 (Good defensive performance, but also played some lovely balls out from the back to set up a few Chelsea attacks)

Ampadu-7 (Very solid performance in the midfield from the young Welshman. Made a few loose passes, but that’s expected of a young player)

Fabregas- 6 (Unfortunate to have his penalty saved by Steele)

Barkley- 5 (Average)

Loftus-Cheek- 7 (Subbed early due to back injury, but played very well in the first half- winning Chelsea the penalty)

Morata- 7 (Scored 2 goals, however, missed at least 3 sitters. The Spaniard could have scored 5 goals today)

Hudson-Odoi- 9 (MOTM- Excellent performance.  2 assists in this game for him. Showed today that Chelsea shouldn’t sell him to Bayern as he has a massive future at the club. He should really get some more game time now after that wonderful performance which may convince him to sign a new contract)

Subs;

Hazard- 6 (Didn’t do too much when he came on)

Azpilicueta- 7 (Stabilised the Chelsea backline when they were 2-0 up)

Kante- 5 (Came on very late, so had little time to impact the match)

Manager Rating- Maurizio Sarri- 7- Picked the right team in my opinion, considering all the injuries. Brought on Hazard too early in my opinion. He should have given Moses the chance to replace Loftus-Cheek. Hazard really needed rest as Chelsea need him to be 100% fit for their upcoming Carabao Cup Semi-Final first leg against Tottenham on Tuesday.

Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1)

Steele- 8 (Made some excellent saves to keep Forest in the game. Made the save from the penalty and also made a wonderful save to deny Morata from close range in the first half. Also made a superb save from Hudson-Odoi in the second half)

Darikwa- 6 (Solid in the first half, but exploited in the second half)

Yacob- 4 (Poor for Morata’s second goal)

Fox- 5 (Average)

Janko- 6 (Solid in the first half, but exploited in the second half)

Colback- 7 (Solid in the midfield)

Guedioura- 7 (Was the only forest midfielder trying long shots in the first and second half)

Osborn- 6 (Had a good chance in the second half)

Carvalho- 5 (Quiet game)

Cash-5 (Quite game)

Murphy-6 (Had very little service. However had a chance from a corner in the second half which nearly ended up in the back of the Chelsea net)

Subs;

Lolley- 5 (Didn’t make a massive impact to the game)

Manager Rating- Aitor Karanka- 7- Picked a solid team. Still confused why Grabban wasn’t in the squad. He should be proud of his players for making it a competitive game against a top 6 Premier League side, especially in the first half.

Match Statistics (Credit- BBC Sport)

                                   Chelsea                         Nottingham Forest

Possession (%)             62                                        38

Shots                              23                                         12

Shots on Target            9                                             2

Corners                          10                                           5

Fouls                               4                                            11

Manager and Player Comments (Credit- BBC Sport)

Chelsea Assistant Manager: Carlo Cudicini

Carlo Cudicini, assistant to Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri, on Alvaro Morata: “It was very important for him to score two goals, which can only be good for his confidence.

“We are all pleased with his performance, but we were even when he didn’t score in previous games.

“Hopefully it will be good for his morale and hopefully he will be more free in his mind.

‘He’s a great striker, he has great qualities and now his confidence is back I’m sure he will keep on scoring goals for us.”

Cudicini on Hudson-Odoi: “He did very well; it was a very good performance – two assists and he worked very hard defensively.

“His commitment was great and you want him to have performances like that so he can put some doubts in Maurizio’s mind and be in contention for a place.”

Chelsea Player: Ross Barkley

Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley on Cesc Fabregas: “As a young lad, seeing Cesc play for Arsenal and then for Barcelona and Chelsea, you can see how intelligent he is. Playing with him has been a pleasure.

“He has played for Spain at a time when they were winning everything and he is going to go down as one of the best midfielders ever.”

Nottingham Forest Manager: Aitor Karanka

Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka: “They were too good but the main thing for me was, when we were losing 2-0, we played like we normally would and we tried to press them high.

“It was difficult because it was the fifth game in two weeks and most of the players have played all of those games, so you can imagine how tired they are, and not just physically.

“I tried to change something tactically in the second half and we started to play, but the goal made it even more difficult.

“It is a day to take the good things, to know that we have a committed team on the pitch.”

Next games for both teams

Chelsea next play in the Carabao Cup next Tuesday in the 1st leg of their Semi-Final against Tottenham. Then they play on the weekend in the later kick off on Saturday against Newcastle at home in the Premier League.  Nottingham Forest play next Saturday in the Championship away to a Reading side who are in poor form in the Championship. However, the Royals gave a good account of themselves against Manchester United today in the FA Cup even though they lost 2-0. So this won’t be an easy game for Karanka’s side.

Check out Chivers and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris’s post-match analysis podcast from this game, which will be on Sportstalkline.com soon.

By Danyal Khan

CHELSEA VS NOTTINGHAM FOREST: IN DEPTH MATCH PREVIEW – FA CUP 3RD ROUND

Chelsea take on Nottingham Forest at home in the FA Cup at home this Saturday at 3:00pm (UK time), looking to bounce back from their underwhelming draw at home to Southampton in the Premier League midweek.

This game is also centred around Cesc Fabregas as this is likely to be his last game for the club, as he prepares for his move away to Monaco in the January transfer window.

Sarri’s side will be very much rotated after the Blues are suffering an injury crisis at this moment.

Chelsea will be looking to win this tie, to build up some positive momentum going into a big week next week where they face Tottenham at Wembley in their first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final next Tuesday. Then the Blues take on Newcastle at home on Saturday in the late kick-off in the Premier League.

Nottingham Forest are coming into this FA Cup tie with high confidence after their thumping 4-2 win at home to inform Leeds United side in the Championship last weekend.

Nottingham Forest have upset big teams before in the FA Cup. Especially last season when they beat Arsenal 4-2 at the City ground. So can they repeat that trick by upsetting Chelsea on the weekend?

Team News

Chelsea

Sarri is expected to hand a starting role to Fabregas as the Spaniard reportedly bids farewell to Chelsea after four-and-a-half years at the club.

The Italian is also likely to change his entire back four, with Davide ZappacostaAndreas ChristensenEthan Ampadu and Emerson Palmieri potentially making up the backline.

Fringe Players like Victor Moses and Danny Drinkwater could be given a chance in this match.

Gary Cahill could be left out in order for the centre-back to avoid becoming cup-tied, but Eden Hazard may keep his spot in the team due to the injuries sustained by WillianPedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Callum Hudson Odoi could be used in this game as a sub, so may get a few minutes as the youngster returned to training very recently.

Olivier Giroud will play no part in the game, but Mateo Kovacic could return from illness with Jorginho and N’Golo Kante being left out.

Nottingham Forest

Michael Hefele is absent for Forest after suffering an Achilles injury against Leeds, while Tobias Figueiredo will only feature if he has recovered from a dead leg.

Michael Dawson remains out so Claudio Yacob could be used in the centre of defence having dropped back into that position against Leeds.

Lewis Grabban is a huge doubt through injury, but Ben Osborn could be given a start after coming off the bench to score on New Year’s Day.

Predicted Lineups;

Chelsea’s Predicted Starting eleven- Caballero, Zappacosta, Christensen, Ampadu, Palmieri, Kovacic, Fabregas, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Morata, Moses/ or Hudson Odoi if fully fit.

Nottingham Forest Predicted Starting eleven– Steele, Janko, Yacob, Fox, Robinson, Guedioura, Colback, Lolley, Osborn, Dias, Grabban.

Manager Comments

Chelsea Assistant Manager: Gianfranco Zola (Quotes Credit- Chelsea’s official Twitter)

Gianfranco Zola says he always rated the FA Cup as one of the best competitions because it feeds the dreams of many people and the crowd love it.

On Nottingham Forest, Zola says they are a team we have to respect because they have players who can cause us problems.

Zola says Hudson-Odoi is highly valued by the club and he hopes the youngster will remain at Stamford Bridge. He believes the attacker can have a big future at Chelsea.

On Alvaro Morata, Zola says it’s important for him to score, but goals are only a consequence of the work he does for the team. The Italian believes the goals will come for the striker.

Zola believes that Eden Hazard may get a rest tomorrow but we will have to wait and see due to the number of injuries we have.

The Italian says there is a good chance both Pedro and Giroud will be back for the Tottenham game next week.

Zola says if Cesc Fabregas plays tomorrow he’s sure he will deliver a good performance.

Zola says Ethan Ampadu is going to become an important player for the club due to his intelligence and attitude. He says the youngster is highly valued by the staff and when there is a chance he will play.

Head to Head

Chelsea have met Nottingham Forest 91 times over the years, with The Blues having a better head to head record against the East Midlands club.

The Blues have beaten Forest on 38 occasions. There have been 28 draws between these two sides over the years. Nottingham Forest have beaten Chelsea on 25 occasions.

The last meeting between these two sides came in the EFL Cup on September the  20th 2017, where the Blues hammered Forest by 5 goals to 1, with Charly Musonda scoring his first goal for Chelsea. Batshuayi also scored his first hat-trick for Chelsea on that day.

Betting Odds/My Prediction

William Hill have made Chelsea favourites to qualify from this tie to round 4 of the FA Cup, with a Blues win being priced at 2/9. A draw between these two sides is being priced at 5/1. And a shock Nottingham Forest win is being priced at 12/1.

My Prediction for this game is a very tight 2-1 win to Chelsea. I don’t think it will be easy for Chelsea with all their injuries so I think that they will scrape through this tie and avoid an upset early on in the FA Cup.

I think Chelsea will go behind in this game through a Lewis Grabban goal, and I think that goals from Hudson-Odoi and Fabregas in the second half will just see Chelsea through.

By Danyal Khan

Chelsea vs Southampton- Match Preview: 2nd January 2019

Chelsea host the Saints at 7:45pm on Wednesday night looking to build up some momentum after their crucial 0-1 win in the London derby against Crystal Palace last weekend.

A Chelsea win would take the Blues up to 46 points, which would solidify their space in the top 4.

The Blues cannot drop points at home in this game, as this is a game that the Blues are expected to win. And with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United hovering just outside the top 4, a Chelsea loss in this game would really open up the top 4 race.

The Saints come into this game after back to back defeats at home to West-Ham and Manchester City at the weekend, however, they are outside the relegation zones on goal difference.

However, there is more of a positive feel around Southampton, after Ralph Hasenhuttl has breathed new life into the Saints- making them a more attacking team, and this has led to them picking up an unexpected win against Arsenal.

So they have shown that they can spring a surprise on a top 6 team, so can they repeat this trick when they travel to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night?

Can the Saints repeat what Leicester did to Chelsea, where the foxed picked up a surprise 0-1 win at Stamford Bridge before Christmas? Chelsea fans would hope not…

Recent form in the Premier League

Chelsea- W/W/L/W/W

Southampton- L/W/W/L/L

Team News

Chelsea

Olivier Giroud is likely to miss out after he picked up an ankle injury in Chelsea’s win over Crystal Palace at the weekend.

Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Danny Drinkwater are all expected to remain sidelined.

Southampton 

Southampton defender Ryan Bertrand is nearing full fitness after back surgery but may not be ready to face Chelsea.

Michael Obafemi is expected to miss out again with a hamstring problem, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is suspended.

Predicted line-ups:

Chelsea predicted starting eleven- Kepa, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rüdiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kovacic, Kante, Willian, Hazard, Morata.

Southampton predicted starting eleven- McCarthy, Yoshida, Stephens, Bednarek, Valery, Lemina, Romeu, Targett, Armstrong, Redmond, Ings.

Manager Comments (Quotes Credit- BBC Sport)

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri on the club’s injury list: “We are in trouble because in January we have to play every three days.

“We have to play 18 [more Premier League] matches, so other teams’ results are not important. But it is crucial to have continuity.”

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl: “The mentality and character of the team is okay. They believe in their qualities and we can do it better than we did.

“We did it against Arsenal and we can do it against Chelsea.”

Head to Head record

Chelsea come out on top on the head to head record against the Saints. These two clubs have met 101 times over the years, with Chelsea winning 45 times in all competitions against the Saints. There have been 28 draws between these sides. And the Saints have beaten the Blues 28 times.

The most recent meeting between these two sides was earlier this season in the Premier League, where Chelsea comprehensively beat the Saints by 0-3 at Saint Mary’s Stadium in October.

The most recent meeting between these two sides at Stamford Bridge was last season in the Premier League, where a Marcos Alonso free-kick goal was all that separated the two sides as the Blues beat the Saints 1-0. This game took place on the 16th December 2017.

Betting Odds/My Prediction 

Bet 365 have made Chelsea favourites for this game with a Blues win being priced at 2/7. A draw between these two sides is being priced at 11/2. A surprise and shock Saints win is being priced at 10/1.

My realistic prediction for this game is a tight 1-0 win to Chelsea, with Eden Hazard scoring the only goal in this game.

However, my optimistic prediction as a Chelsea fan for this game is a 3-1 Blues win, with goals from Hazard, Morata and Alonso giving the Blues a comprehensive win on Wednesday night. Danny Ings will score a consolation goal for the Saints.

Comment down below your score predictions for this game.

By Danyal Khan