Bescott Stadium, Walsall
Wednesday, 23rd September 20152, 1945 GMT
Capital One Cup holders Chelsea FC begin their defence against League One outfit Walsall on Wednesday night, aiming for their third consecutive victory in all competitons
Amid all the hullabaloo caused by the actions of Diego Costa and Gabriel Paulista in the London derby last weekend, Chelsea FC managed to put in one of their best displays of the season — from the defence to the attack — and will be looking to keep up the momentum when they begin their Capital One Cup campaign on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Walsall have beaten two Championship teams in Nottingham Forest and Brighton and Hove Albion in their impressive run to the third round of the League Cup, and will now be facing a significantly tougher task when they take on Jos Mourinho’s men.
Team News and Tactics
Manager Dean Smith could be without midfielder Isaiah Osbourne, who is a doubt because of a knee injury, while former Chelsea FC F.A. Youth Cup winner Milan LalkoviA? could line up against the Blues on Wednesday night.
The Saddlers are likely to line up in a 4-5-1 formation against Mourinho’s side, with target-man Tom Bradshaw expected to lead the attack. The Welshman has 7 goals from 11 games in all competitions so far, and will be looking to add to that tally when he faces what is likely to be a second-string Chelsea FC defence.
Playing in front of their home fans, Dean Smith’s men will try and play with confidence, but the key — as it always is against technically superior opposition — will be to deny the Blues’ midfield time and space in which to operate. If Ruben Loftus-Cheek starts in the centre of midfield as expected, Walsall could try and apply pressure on the teenager in particular to see if they get some joy from any potential slip-ups he might make.
Meanwhile, St. Kitts and Nevis international Romaine Sawyers could be in line to make his first start in the League Cup, with the midfielder fresh off the back of scoring in the Saddlers’ previous game against Peterborough. The 23-year-old has a knack for scoring from outside the box, and Walsall will aim to find him in space in the final third so he can test Asmir Begovi , who is expected to start in goal for the Blues.
Possible starting lineup: Etheridge; Taylor, O’Connor, Downing, Chambers; Henry, Demetriou, Flanagan, Mantom, Sawyers; Bradshaw
Jos Mourinho will be without Spain international Diego Costa, who was suspended by the F.A. for three games after being found guilty of violent conduct in the London derby against Arsenal FC. Meanwhile, captain John Terry is expected to return to the starting line-up, with Radamel Falcao expected to start up front. New signing Papy Djilobodji could make an appearance, but is not expected to start.
Chelsea FC will likely start with their customary 4-2-3-1, with England U-21 international Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the midfield double-pivot alongside veteran John Obi Mikel. The presence of Mikel, a more defensive minded midfielder, could give Loftus-Cheek the opportunity to make marauding runs from deep into the attacking third — a key strength of his.
Left-back Abdul Baba Rahman is also likely to get a start against the Saddlers, and the young Ghanaian could once again contribute in an attacking sense down the left flank. Given Falcao’s intelligence in the penalty area, the former FC Augsburg defender will be looking to get first-time crosses into the six-yard box.
Midfielder Eden Hazard is unlikely to be given a rest, and could well start for the Blues, particularly given the injury to Willian, and the uncertain fitness of Oscar and Pedro. In that event, the presence of Baba Rahman could help immensely, as the Belgian is likely to be double or triple-marked during the game. The duo already shared some promising exchanges in the game against Maccabi Tel-Aviv, and it will be intriguing to watch how that partnership on the left flank fares on Wednesday night.
Possible starting lineup: Begovi ; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Terry, Baba Rahman; Mikel, Loftus-Cheek; R my, Oscar, Hazard; Falcao
- John Terry is set to make his 650th start for Chelsea FC in all competitions against Walsall on Wednesday
- Eden Hazard could make his 150th start of the Blues in all competitions, in just his fourth season at the club
- Walsall’s best performance in the competition was a semi-final appearance against Liverpool FC in the 1980s
- Chelsea FC have not lost in the Capital One Cup since the quarter-final defeat to Sunderland in 2013/2014
- Chelsea FC have won three of their last six competitive penalty shoot-outs, and have won two friendly shoot-outs this season against FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain
Player to watch
The 19-year-old could be in line for his second start of the season, having impressed after starting against Maccabi Tel-Aviv at Stamford Bridge in the Blues’ Champions League opener. The Chelsea FC academy graduate was also very impressive after coming on in the Premier League game against Crystal Palace, providing the drive from midfield that Mourinho’s men lacked prior to his introduction.
A start against Walsall gives the teenager the opportunity to continue to improve, and Loftus-Cheek will be hoping he can do just that when he takes to the field on Wednesday night. A big season lies ahead of the youngster, and given his potential, there is every chance he will be given greater responsibility as the season progresses if he manages to impress Mourinho.
Walsall 0 – 2 Chelsea FC
The Blues’ boss has promised to ‘show respect’ to the League One outfit by playing a strong side, and given the number of international footballers who are in the Chelsea FC squad, there should only be one outcome from the game.
Mourinho will also be stressing the importance of winning to continue the mini-run his side have put together, ahead of a demanding run of games against Newcastle away, followed by Porto away and Southampton at Stamford Bridge.
Blast from the past