Chelsea will look to progress to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup with a win over AFC Bournemouth in the Quarter-Finals.
Having lost to West Ham followed by back-to-back wins in the league, the Blues’ form has been erratic to say the least. Of the 4 times they have lost in the league this season, 3 have been against teams from the bottom-half.
Their run in the Carabao Cup, though, has been without hiccups. A 5-1 thrashing of Nottingham Forest was followed by a close 2-1 win over Everton – both fixtures being played at Stamford Bridge.
Bournemouth, too, have had a relatively straightforward route to the quarter-finals, having beaten two Championship outfits and one Premier League side in the process. They have not won any of their last 5 games in all competitions, having lost 3 of them.
The 4-0 thrashing by Liverpool would have demoralised many, but they have a reason to believe that they can conjure the ‘magic of the cup’ and pull off an upset come Wednesday night.
Team News and Tactics
Antonio Conte does not have many injury concerns at hand. David Luiz is expected to miss out again with a knee problem, and Marcos Alonso is ruled out via suspension. The boss also confirmed the absence of Charly Musonda with a muscular problem.
He will look to test his bench-strength come Wednesday, with the likes of Michy Batshuayi, Willy Caballero, Kenedy and Ethan Ampadu all vying for a start. The formation, as usual, will be expected to be 3-4-3 with Batshuayi expected to lead the line in attack. He will hope to replicate his compatriot, Eden Hazard’s form and hope to run the show for the Blues on the night.
Even in defence, the likes of Gary Cahill may be given the night off, with Antonio Rudiger replacing him on the left side of defence. On the defensive midfield front, we could see N’Golo Kante being rested with the young Ampadu replacing him. His partner alongside is expected to be Cesc Fabregas, hoping to pull the strings from midfield in the absence of his regular partner.
All Blue eyes, though, will be on Ampadu and Kenedy. Both have been itching for a start and should look to grab this opportunity with both hands to stake a claim for their position on a more regular basis. Conte also confirmed possible bit-part roles for Dujon Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi, the latter fresh off winning the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
Probable lineup (3-4-3): Caballero (GK); Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Kenedy, Ampadu, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Willian, Pedro, Batshuayi
Eddie Howe’s troubles were further compounded by injuries to Charlie Daniels and Josh King in that 4-0 defeat, while Callum Wilson’s unavailability remains cause for concern. Long-term absentees Brad Smith, Adam Federici and Tyrone Mings all remain out.
Even though it is the only realistic chance of a trophy for them, we could expect them to go with a much-changed line up in this one. A balance of attack and defence will be key, considering that even Chelsea are not expected to field a strong lineup.
Midfielders Harry Arter, Junior Stanislas, Ryan Fraser, attacker Lys Mousset and backup goalkeeper Artur Boruc will push for a starting berth. They will be expected to take the field in a 4-4-1-1 lineup with the experienced Jermain Defoe leading the line in attack. The latter was largely ineffective against Liverpool and will be looking to get one over the reigning Premier League champions.
Probable lineup (4-4-1-1): Boruc (GK), Smith, Ake, Steve Cook, Francis; Stanislas, Gosling, Arter, Fraser; Mousset, Defoe
Player to watch
The top-scorer for Chelsea in the Carabao Cup with 3 goals – the Belgian will have to take these opportunities when they are provided to him. Clearly the second choice to Alvaro Morata in the striker role, he has two choices – fight for his place or move to another club with a guaranteed starting place.
If he chooses the former, this game might provide the perfect stage for him to showcase his talent. A glut of goals in this game would certainly be noticed by Conte and probably point a way to a better future for the former Marseille man.
- Chelsea are unbeaten at home since the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in September, having won six of the eight games since
- Bournemouth are winless in six games in all competitions
- Only three sides have scored fewer goals than Bournemouth in the Premier League with their front three have managed only 12 goals between them
- Three of Chelsea’s last four victories at home have been thanks to a scoreline of 1-0
- Chelsea have managed just one clean sheet in their last five fixtures, conceding in the both Carabao Cup games before this
Chelsea 2-0 Bournemouth
Even though it might be a second-string side, Chelsea should be able to see this one through. Even if the starting eleven finds it difficult, they will be able to call upon the likes of Hazard or Morata to come rescue them.
Bournemouth, on the other hand, should treat this as a proverbial cup final. They have nothing to lose from this and often teams are most dangerous when that is the case. With an attack-minded coach like Howe at the sidelines, the Cherries should make it tough for the home side.