Chelsea welcome League One side Peterborough United to Stamford Bridge for their third round FA Cup tie.
The Blues will be looking to bounce back after a shock defeat at White Hart Lane against cross town rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Antonio Conte’s winning streak was ended by Mauricio Pochettino’s side and the Italian will be desperate to get back to winning ways.
Peterborough United currently sit at 8th place in the third tier of English football, but have been on a good run of form off late. Their last defeat came in the month of November last year against Scunthorpe United, after which they have been on an 8 match unbeaten streak.
Antonio Conte will have a fully fit squad to pick from with no new injuries. The departures of midfielders Marco Van Ginkel on loan and club legend John Obi Mikel to China would have likely helped ease Antonio Conte’s selection headache for this tie.
Given the nature of this tie, it is likely that a few fringe players and youngsters will get a look-in. John Terry and Kurt Zouma have both returned from injury and are available for selection as confirmed by Antonio Conte, and both are ready to feature against the Posh.
With tomorrow’s starting XI likely to feature players who haven’t featured that much, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, N’golo Kante, Marcos Alonso and Nemanja Matic will all be probably rested. Some of them might however, start the game on the bench.
Begovic is almost certain to start the tie. Youngster Ola Aina, who has impressed when given the chance, can also be expected to start at right wing-back. Both Pedro and Willian will likely start in the front three, after having to battle it out for the right wing position for most of the season.
Nathaniel Chalobah may very well start this game alongside Cesc Fabregas. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has a lot of speculation surrounding his immediate future, is another option. Michy Batshuayi is another player who is most likely set to start tomorrow ahead of Diego Costa.
The italian will also have the option of using a 3-5-2 formation. Having another body in midfield will allow Matic or Kante to start and Batshuayi could start alongside Ruben Loftus-Cheek upfront, with the latter playing a deeper role.
Despite losing against Tottenham midweek, it is unlikely that Chelsea will be willing to change anything about their style of play going into this tie. Their now standard 3-4-3 formation should be the way to go along with the high pressure, counter attacks and wing play that comes with it.
Predicted Starting XI (3-4-3): Begovic; Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Chalobah, Fabregas, Aina; Pedro, Batshuayi, Willian
Knee injuries will keep out both Jack Baldwin and Jermaine Anderson for Grant McCann’s side. In light of this, youngsters Martin Samuelsen and Dominic Ball might be handed starts. Brad Inman should return for selection after missing out in their midweek tie.
The Posh manager has insisted that his side wouldn’t change their playing style when they take on Chelsea and would try and take the game to them and attack, much like how Tottenham Hotspur did at White Hart Lane in their 2-0 victory against the Blues.
The 36-year-old may choose to go with the same side that played out a draw against Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park, which means a 4-4-2 formation with Luke McGee in goal and Michael Bostwick, Ryan Tafazolli, Andrew Hughes and Michael Smith making up the defence.
Gwion Edwards and Marcus Maddison will be deployed on the flanks and Christopher Forrester and Martin Samuelson in the middle of the park. Junior Morias and Paul Taylor will be leading the Posh attack at Stamford Bridge.
With a young and exciting squad at his disposal, the visitors will go into this tie knowing that they have nothing to lose and all the pressure will be on the hosts. While getting any kind of result seems unlikely and would be a huge achievement for the Posh, the Fa Cup isn’t a stranger to ties where David triumphs over Goliath.
Predicted Starting XI (4-4-2): McGee; Smith, Bostwick, Tafazolli, Hughes; Edwards, Forrester, Samuelsen, Maddison; Morias, Taylor
- In both previous fixtures of this clash, Chelsea have put 5 goals past Peterborough. The sixth round of the FA Cup in 1965 which ended 5-1 and the 2001 third round of the same competition which ended 5-0.
- Chelsea have lost just 1 of their previous 35 fixtures against lower league teams in the FA Cup.
- Peterborough have not got the better of a Premier League side in the FA Cup since Arsenal in 1965.
- Chelsea’s loss against Tottenham was their first in all competitions since October last year.
- Peterborough go into this tie having won just 3 of their last 7 games, with the other 4 being a draw.
Players To Watch
Chelsea: Kurt Zouma & Michy Batshuayi
The Frenchman has been out of action for 11 months and needless to say, it has been a long and arduous return from that horrific injury he suffered against Manchester United in February. He missed his side’s European campaign as a result and has missed the entire first half of the season.
He featured thrice for Chelsea’s reserves this season and it should be interesting to see how he fits into Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system as a part of a 3 man defence, possibly alongside John Terry, who is also returning after a lengthy injury lay off.
Michy Batshuayi is also set to start for the first time since Chelsea’s EFL Cup loss against West Ham United back in October. The Belgian international has started only 3 games this season and none of them have come in the Premier League.
Batshuayi was ignored for Chelsea’s Premier League victory against Bournemouth, even in the absence of Diego Costa. However, Peterborough provides the perfect opportunity for Batshuayi to prove himself and also remind Conte why Chelsea paid £33 million for him in the summer.
Chelsea 3-0 Peterborough
It is difficult to see Chelsea not win this tie comprehensively. It is likely that the Blues will field some youngsters and some players who haven’t featured in the first team regularly, but given the quality within their ranks, they have no excuse for not winning this convincingly.
Chelsea’s winning streak was broken by Tottenham Hotspur, but the Posh don’t have half the quality that Spurs do and in their league and Antonio Conte will not stand for a second consecutive defeat in the space of 4 days, especially against a third-tier side.