Frank Lampard returns to his old hunting ground, albeit as the manager of Derby County to take on Chelsea in the Round of 16 of the EFL Cup.
Maurizio Sarri has had a whirlwind of a start at Chelsea. The manager has already established a new record in the Premier League, becoming the first Chelsea manager start off his Premier League career 11 games without defeat. The latest match was a 4-0 drubbing for Burnley at Turf Moor, a place that had become a fortress of sort, in the 2017-18 campaign.
For Derby County, on the other hand, the early enthusiasm has been streamlined now, thanks in large parts to the indifferent run the team has gone on under Frank Lampard in the aftermath of the penalty shootout win over Manchester United in the Round of 32 of the EFL Cup.
Derby have just two wins in their last six matches in the league and have slipped to sixth on the Championship table.
Chelsea overcame Liverpool narrowly in their round of 32 match while Derby emerged unscathed in a grueling encounter against Manchester United. While the two teams might be on slightly different sides of the form table, anything goes in the cup.
As Lampard prepares Derby County to take on a Chelsea team he was part of for majority of his career and is regarded as an icon by the fans, we take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Maurizio Sarri will not want to rest several players, especially after the manager showed he is serious for the EFL Cup, which has reflected in his team selection thus far for the said competition. The back four though, will continue to be rotated, with Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen and Emerson Palmieri set to command the respective positions in defence.
Mateo Kovacic would have recovered and should start in midfield. Cesc Fabregas should come in for Jorginho, having already proved his ability to act as an alternative for the Italian. The third spot is up for contention.
N’Golo Kante should be rested. But, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is not really up to match fitness, which combined with Ross Barkley’s recent resurgence suggests the Englishman should prevail over his compatriot.
Alvaro Morata returned to scoring ways against Burnley and should lead the forward line for Chelsea. Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi should be the wingers, especially with Pedro not really up to full match fitness.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson; Barkley, Fabregas, Kovacic; Willian, Morata, Hudson-Odoi
Ikechi Anya and George Evans continue to remain on the sidelines for Derby County. Frank Lampard is likely to rest Richard Keogh in favour of Curtis Davies, who will come back in to the back four on Wednesday. Fikayo Tomori will partner the experienced Davies in central defence, with Scott Malone and youngster Jayden Bogle the full-backs.
Chelsea have given Derby County permission to field the players they have on loan from the Premier League outfit, which means Mason Mount is a certain starter in midfield for Derby, with Tom Huddlestone and Bradley Johnson likely to partner the youngster.
In attack, Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson and former Manchester United star Tom Lawrence are set to start on the wing. Jack Marriott has impressed whenever started upfront and the same should be the case against Chelsea on Wednesday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Carson; Bogle, Davies, Tomori, Malone; Johnson, Huddlestone, Mount; Wilson, Marriott, Lawrence
1. Chelsea have scored 16 goals in 4 matches at Stamford Bridge against Derby County.
2. Chelsea are yet to lose a competitive game in 14 matches in all competitions to date, not counting the initial loss to Manchester City in the Community Shield.
3. Derby have never knocked out two top-tier teams in the League Cup, now known as the EFL Cup, since the 1968-69 season, wherein they overcame Chelsea and Everton. They have already knocked out Manchester United in the 2018-19 EFL Cup.
4. Chelsea have scored in their last 22 meetings against Derby County in all competitions.
5. Chelsea have scored in each of their home games in all competitions so far.
Player to Watch
All eyes will be on the youngster who has impressed during his loan spell thus far at Derby County, with the player even said to be on the shortlist for an England call-up. Chelsea might have just handed Derby the permission to field Mount in order to gauge how ready the Englishman is for the first-team.
Derby County have already shown they are not scared to play their own brand of football against the top teams and Mount is a key player within the setup.
Chelsea 2-1 Derby County
It will be a game high on emotional and footballing quotient on Wednesday as Derby County’s outlandish and pleasing brand of football goes up against the patient and calculated tactical style of Maurizio Sarri-tutored Chelsea.
On the pitch though, we should be able to see an entertaining game. But, Chelsea’s form should be enough to carry them through to the quarter-finals.