October 28, 19:45 BST
Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury
On paper this clash looks like a mismatch. But Chelsea would be wise to not underestimate League two outfit Shrewsbury town when the pair meet on Tuesday night for the last 16 match of the Capital One Cup.
The League 2 outfit, led by boss Micky Mellon, have already knocked out Blackpool, Leicester and Norwich and sit comfortably in fourth place in the league. With home advantage sure to create a terrific atmosphere for Shrewsbury, Mourinho’s Chelsea will be in for a tight contest.
The Blues are coming off a hotly contested draw with Manchester United, and the last-minute equaliser is sure to have rubbed them the wrong way. What better way to seek revenge than lashing out at a team that is ranked 71 places below them in the English Football Pyramid.
For the home team, captain Liam Lawrence will be looking to start the match after making it to the bench last week. Striker Andy Magan should find his place on the bench after recovering from a knee injury.
For the visitors, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta are suspended. Brazilian midfielder Ramires could be in line for a return from injury.
Shrewsbury, on the other hand, come into this game on a good run of form. The Shropshire side have won their last four matches and are unbeaten at home so far this season. The home side have also installed temporary seating for the special occasion to ensure a fantastic atmosphere for the match at Greenhouse Meadow.
Mourinho is sure to make several changes to the side that faced United on Sunday. Another factor that could lead to a completely changed side for Chelsea is the fact that they last played less than 48 hours ago, so keeping in mind fatigue, Mourinho is likely to select fringe players in the hopes of having a fresh side playing the match.
Line-ups and Tactics
While lower-division teams are prone to resorting to long ball tactics, Shrewsbury have at times played the ball on the ground. The midfield has creativity, but it remains to be seen whether they will be allowed time on the ball and to play their passing game.
Indeed, Shrewsbury blew away the likes of Leicester and Luton with their slick, fast-paced football, so Chelsea will have to be wary.
Captain Liam Lawrence, a former Stoke City player, sets much of the tempo in the middle and he will be looking to do the same against Chelsea.
Manager Micky Mellon is struggling to find his first XI, so it’s anybody’s guess as to what team he decides to send out on the pitch against the Premier League leaders.
Probable line-up: Leutwiler, Grandison, Goldson, Knight-Percival, Grimmer, Woods, Lawrence, Grant, Demetriou, Collins and Akpa-Akpro
Jose Mourinho will be looking to rest several key first team members following the energy-sapping draw at Old Trafford. The likes of Salah, Schurrle, Ramires and Baker could get a first-team berth. Key members such as Hazard, Willian and Matic are likely to start on the bench.
Last season, Chelsea struggled against teams that parked the proverbial bus, and the same could be the case against Shrewsbury, with the difference in quality palpable. Mourinho would be looking to add pace and physicality to this side, so as to not get run over.
Petr Cech will be in line for a start, with the Czech international being consigned to the bench owing to Thibaut Courtois’ sensational form this season.
Probable Lineup: Cech, Cahill, Zouma, Ake, Luis, Baker, Mikel, Salah, Oscar, Ramires and Schurrle
Player To Watch Out For: Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro
The striker netter his first career hat-trick against fellow promotion hopefuls Bury FC only last week, so Chelsea will need to keep their eye on the French striker.
- Shrewsbury have won all three League Cup games this season 1-0, with all three wins coming against sides in higher divisions.
- The last Premier League side to visit Greenhous Meadow in this competition were Swansea City in August 2011 – they lost 3-1.
- Shrewsbury go into the game on the back of a four-match winning streak.
- Chelsea have won 13 and lost none of their last 15 League Cup games against lower ranked sides; a run that goes back to 1999.
- The Blues have kept eight clean sheets in their last 13 away games in this competition.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in all competitions this season.
Shrewsbury boss Micky Mellon was in good spirits as he spoke to the press ahead of the match.
“I’m determined to get everything we can as a football club.
“I want to learn everything about how the best in the business operates. If we can take anything from that and make this wonderful football club better.
“Then I’m determined to that, I want to take any opportunity to move us forwards.
“Jose deserves and probably loves his nickname.
“It’s not about me, I’m not that type of manager or guy. I’m here to make the team win games and I am a facility for the players, it’s not my show.
“It’s a cup tie, we want to try to win and get to the quarter-finals, we are not going to come and make numbers up. We are going to try to knock them out.”
“It’s all about a fantastic evening on Tuesday night, an evening in isolation where we can go and absolutely enjoy it,” said Mellon.
Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, was far less enthusiastic, claiming his side had too many injuries to deal with ahead of the Capital One Cup match
“We are in trouble, because we have so many injured players. It is even more difficult for us to go. We have to go. We now have a difficult match. Because they are doing very well in their league and doing very well against superior teams in the Capital One Cup. It’s a big day for them. We know it will be difficult for us.”
“Shrewsbury in the cup is not a friendly,” Mourinho added. “We have to play matches with respect and the best way to respect Shrewsbury is to go there with a good team, not to go there with a weak team and lose. It is to go there with a good team – if they win, they win, but they win against a good team.
“We are in a difficult situation but when you look at the players who didn’t play on Sunday against Manchester United], Schürrle, Salah, Zouma, Ake, Mikel, these boys are obviously going to have to play,” said Mourinho.
Whilst it’s futile to predict what will happen in a cup match, Chelsea have more than enough quality to see off Shrewsbury. There will be plenty of goals in the game, with the home crowd cheering on the Shropshire side and fringe players turning out for Chelsea.
A high-scoring win for Chelsea seems to be on the cards.