Antonio Conte will hope to get his side back to winning ways as they face Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.
The Blues were subject to a rare draw against Burnley in the Premier League in their last match and Conte will be desperate to get back to victorious ways. In order to regain that bit of lost momentum and confidence, a convincing victory is required and the Molineux seems like the perfect place.
They will be hosted by Paul Lambert’s Wolverhampton Wanderers side who are struggling in the Championship this season. They haven’t won a single game in February and their last victory came against Barnsley nearly 3 weeks ago.
Team News & Tactics
Paul Lambert will be without the likes of Joe Mason and Ivan Cavaleiro, while Jack Price and Nouha Dicko will be doubtful going into this tie. Dicko has returned from injury, but will still be subject to late fitness tests prior to the game.
Dadi Bödvarsson will likely start once again if Nouha Dicko is declared unfit. Andreas Weimann will likely start in place of Ronan at right wing. Former Chelsea boy George Saville will likely return to midfield alongside Lee Evans, which will allow David Edwards to move back into attacking midfield.
Helder Costa will be their key man on the right wing and the Portuguese will likely have a free role when Wolverhampton are in possession of the ball. He will also be key to their efforts when they break on the counter attack.
However, it is likely that they will go through long spells of the game with less possession and that midfield duo of Saville and Evans will be completely focused on applying constant pressure and recovering possession while Weimann will be doing the same on the wings.
Lining up in the 4-2-3-1 formation, most of their efforts will be focused on breaking down Chelsea’s midfield and restricting Fabregas’ influence on the game and stopping him from dictating play. They will take inspiration from Burnley and not shy away from taking the game to the visitors.
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Ikeme; Doherty, Batth, Stearman, Coady; Saville, Evans; Weimann, Edwards, Costa; Dicko
Only David Luiz is expected to miss out due to injury, but any other changes made to the squad will purely be so that second string players and youngsters like Fabregas, Zouma, Terry, Chalobah and Michy Batshuayi can get some valuable minutes under their belt.
Asmir Begovic is likely to replace Thibaut Courtois in goal while a now fully fit Kurt Zouma should team up alongside John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta as a part of Chelsea’s back 3. Nathan Ake and Victor Moses should serve as wingbacks and we might see youngster Ola Aina make an appearance.
Cesc Fabregas and Nathaniel Chalobah should replace N’Golo Kante and and Nemanja Matic in the middle of the park for the Blues while Ruben Loftus-Cheek will likely be deployed in more of a secondary striker role as the Italian continues to try and find the best position for the Englishman.
Batshuayi is likely to make his way back into the starting XI for the first time since their victory over Brentford. Willian, will get a chance to start and remind Conte of his worth in place of Pedro who started the last two Premier League games against Arsenal and Burnley.
Chelsea can switch between a 3-4-3 and a 3-5-2, depending on Loftus-Cheek’s position. In this case, the Englishman can either play as a striker alongside Batshuayi, or in midfield with Nathaniel Chalobah. In this case, Fabregas would take up a deeper role and Willian would act as a second striker.
Possible Starting XI (3-4-3): Begovic; Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ake, Fabregas, Chalobah, Moses; Loftus-Cheek, Batshuayi, Willian
- Chelsea have emerged victorious from 9 out of previous 10 meetings against Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Chelsea have failed to score in just 1 game, out of their previous 11.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers have been knocked out of the FA Cup in games played at the Molineux in 7 of their past 11 previous campaigns.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers have managed to keep only 1 clean sheet in the past 14 games.
- The last time they met in 2012, Chelsea won the fixture 6-0.
- The last time Wolverhampton Wanderers knocked out a top flight side from this competition was Newcastle in the 2002/03 season.
Player To Watch
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Helder Costa
The Portuguese winger has been a revelation since moving to the Molineux in the summer and his performance against Liverpool in the last round of the competition completely justified the Wolves smashing their transfer record to sign him permanently.
In 32 appearances in all competitions this term,he has become his side’s highest contributor in terms of goals and assists. Over the course of the campaign, he has notched up 10 goals and 8 assists. There will definitely be one Costa on the pitch tonight, and Chelsea fans will have more to fear if it’s not theirs.
Chelsea: Michy Batshuayi
The Belgian is expected to make one of his rare starts and Conte will hope that he can make the most of it. Batshuayi has had a goal and assist in every FA Cup game he’s played in so far and he will once again be leading the Chelsea attack at the Molineux today.
It has been a frustrating campaign so far at the Bridge for the former Marseille striker, thanks to Diego Costa’s hot form. But the Spanish international seems to be going through something of a rough patch in recent weeks and maybe some rest would do him some good.
In that respect, this game becomes even more important for Batshuayi. It is a rare chance to show Conte and also remind his manager of what he is capable of, and what he can contribute to the team as they go into the business end of the season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-4 Chelsea
Barring David Luiz, Antonio Conte has a fully fit squad, meaning that he will see no excuse for his side to not come away from this tie victorious. Their hosts are languishing in the bottom half of the EFL Championship, riddled with injuries and haven’t won at home since January.
They will be wary of the fact that Liverpool were dismantled at home, but it isn’t something Conte will care for. The Blues will be desperate to get back to winning ways after their draw against Burnley and they will likely field some players who will be even more desperate to prove themselves to the Italian.