Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Tuesday 27th October 2015, 1945 GMT
Chelsea FC continue their defence of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday when they take on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium in the fourth round of the competition
With rumours in the British media this week about Chelsea FC already looking at alternatives to Jos Mourinho for the managerial hot-seat at Stamford Bridge for the rest of the season, the pressure is on the Portuguese and his team to deliver when they face Stoke City in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.
An early exit from the competition is not likely to help Mourinho’s cause, although the more important game is unquestionably the one against Liverpool FC this Sunday at Stamford Bridge. The vultures already appear to be circling over SW6, but if there’s one theme that has recurred throughout the 52-year-old’s career, it is his ability to produce some of his best results with his back against the wall.
Team News and Tactics
Manager Mark Hughes could welcome back captain Ryan Shawcross for Tuesday’s game, with the centre-back in contention to make his first appearance of the season following back surgery in August. Striker Mame Biram Diouf has also rejoined the Potters’ squad after returning from compassionate leave following the death of his mother.
Former FC Barcelona duo Bojan Krki (toe) and Marc Muniesa (thigh) are doubts however, as is defender Geoff Cameron, who left the field after just nine minutes in Stoke City’s 2-0 defeat at home against Watford on Saturday.
Chelsea FC have been vulnerable defensively throughout the campaign, having conceded more goals than any other side in the league with the exceptions of Norwich City, Bournemouth and Newcastle United. The Blues showed their vulnerability from set-pieces in their defeat to West Ham — if only due to a lack of focus than any other reason — and it will be something Hughes will want his side to capitalise on come Tuesday.
The Potters also have plenty of technical ability in their attack, with Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri and Austrian Marko Arnautovi expected to start on either wing. Their pace on the counter could be particularly effective against a relatively slow Blues’ defence, and the potential absence of Spaniard C sar Azpilicueta — who could be moved to right-back — on the left could mean Stoke City targeting their attacks on that particular side of the pitch.
Possible line-up (4-2-3-1): Butland; Johnson, Shawcross (C), Wollscheid, Pieters; Adam, Whelan; Shaqiri, Krki , Arnautovi ; Diouf
Blues manager Jos Mourinho will continue to be without the services of right-back Branislav Ivanovi , who is recovering from a hamstring problem, while Belgian Thibaut Courtois remains a long-term absentee. French striker LoA?c R my as well as former FC Barcelona forward Pedro are both recovering from minor injuries and are doubts for Tuesday’s game.
Serbian midfielder Nemanja Mati is suspended after picking up two yellows in the first half in the defeat at the Boleyn Ground against West Ham, meaning an opportunity could open up for youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the Chelsea FC midfield.
Mourinho might see this as a competition the Blues can win this season, in which case he is unlikely to risk a defeat by making wholesale changes. More experienced first-team players such as Oscar could make a return to the starting line-up, while compatriot Willian could be given a well-deserved rest.
The Blues were not as bad against West Ham as the post-mortem on Saturday suggested, and there has definitely been more cohesion about the midfield over the past three games. Mourinho will be hoping that continues on Tuesday — without the individual mistakes — which would then give his team a solid platform to be more adventurous in attack.
Colombian Radamel Falcao could well lead the line, meaning that the Blues’ attacking midfielders could play a few yards higher up to support the former FC Porto striker, who isn’t particularly good with his back to goal, and is unlikely to run the channels all game long as Diego Costa is capable of doing.
Possible line-up (4-2-3-1): Begovi ; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Cahill (C), Baba Rahman; Loftus-Cheek, F bregas; Ramires, Hazard, Oscar; Falcao
- Chelsea FC last lost in the League Cup in the 2013-2014 season to Sunderland at the quarter-final stage in extra-time
- Stoke City recorded their largest ever win in this competition against Chelsea FC in 1974, winning 6-2
- Chelsea FC have won the League Cup three times over the last decade — the same as Manchester United, and more than any other side
- All three of Chelsea FC’s League Cup wins since the arrival of Roman Abramovich have come under Jos Mourinho
- Stoke City have been knocked out at the Britannia Stadium for the past four consecutive seasons
Player to watch
The Colombian has scored a solitary goal for Chelsea FC so far this season, but has seen little game time with former Atl tico Madrid team-mate Diego Costa being the clear No 1 for the Blues. Falcao started against Walsall in the Stamford Bridge outfit’s last match in this competition, but was particularly poor on the night, embarrassing himself on one occasion by losing his footing just as he was about to strike a free-kick.
With rumours in the press about the striker possibly moving back to parent club AS Monaco this January, this is one of the few opportunities Falcao is likely to get between now and the winter transfer window to prove his quality and convince the powers that be that is capable of contributing to the Blues’ season. Diego Costa is likely to be rested ahead of a huge game against Liverpool FC this Sunday, and as such, the stage is set for Falcao to have one more shot at salvaging something from his time on the British Isles.
Stoke City 1 – 2 Chelsea FC
With his job seemingly on the line, Mourinho is likely to field a strong line-up at the Britannia on Tuesday, and his side will be looking to bring some semblance of stability and consistency to their results over the next few games. Stoke City will make it tough, playing at home, but a Chelsea FC win is on the cards.