Chelsea will look to join their fellow Premier League sides in the Fourth Round of the Carabao Cup as they host Grimsby Town at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Frank Lampard has not had it easy so far at the start of his managerial career at Chelsea. The Blues have shown an exquisite brand of football going forward. But, the leaky defence is something that will need addressing if they are to mount a genuine top four challenge.
Youth has already started spreading its wings at Chelsea. But, the Carabao Cup will be an opportunity to further it by giving more fringe and young names a chance to make themselves known to the fans at Stamford Bridge. It should also provide a spring after a couple of unsavoury results.
Grimsby Town started their League Two campaign well. But, they seem to have lost their form a bit, with just one win in their last four league matches. Their Carabao Cup campaign has been far from a breeze, with the win over Macclesfield Town coming in penalties after a pure stalemate.
The Carabao Cup provides a rare opportunity for clubs like Grimsby to test their own resolves against much higher opponents, like their adversary on Wednesday, Chelsea. It will be interesting to see which group Chelsea joins, the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal, who progressed comfortably or fellow Londoners Tottenham, who were knocked out by Colchester on Tuesday.
Team News & Tactics
There is mixed news on the injury front for Chelsea. Frank Lampard confirmed that the likes of Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi will feature against Grimsby Town. The duo have recovered from their injuries and have gained match fitness playing for the Under-23s. It will be a Chelsea debut for Reece James, who spent last season at Wigan Athletic.
But, Emerson Palmieri is destined to be out till October while there is no definite return time allotted to Andreas Christensen for now. One player who would be itching to get some game time will be Christian Pulisic. The summer arrival has not found himself on the good side of roster decisions taken so far by Lampard and will hope to use the Grimsby fixture as a reminder of his presence and quality.
Willy Caballero should start in goal for Chelsea, with James and Marcos Alonso being the designated full-backs. Kurt Zouma is likely to be given a chance alongside Fikayo Tomori, who has impressed in length since being afforded an opportunity by Lampard.
Billy Gilmour will taste more first-team minutes in midfield. But, the former Rangers star should find himself in the company of experienced midfielders, with Lampard likely to name Ross Barkley and N’Golo Kante to partner the youngster.
In attack, Pulisic and Pedro will be tasked with providing the width and support for the centre-forward. Tammy Abraham should be given some well-deserved rest, with Michy Batshuayi likely to be given a chance upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Caballero; Reece, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso; Gilmour, Kante, Barkley; Pedro, Batshuayi, Pulisic
There is potential of worry for Michael Jolley in defence, with centre-backs Harry Davis and Ludwig Ohman doubtful for the trip to Chelsea. Jolley is likely to name Luke Waterfall and Liam Gibson in central defence, with Elliott Hewitt and Luke Hendrie on either side of the pairing. James McKeown should continue in goal for Grimsby, which means the entire defence from the narrow win over Macclesfield should be retained.
Ethan Robson was the hero over the weekend against Macclesfield and should start in midfield for Grimsby. Jordan Cook and Jake Hessenthaler will likely complete the midfield. There is the off-chance of Elliott Whitehouse being given a chance. But, we expect Robson to be rewarded for his performance against Macclesfield with a start against Chelsea.
In attack, there is no looking past James Hanson. The striker has been the shining light for Grimsby in League Two so far, despite their indifferent results. The 31-year-old will lead the Grimsby attack. The forward line is likely to have another experienced name in it, with 32-year-old Matt Green tipped to start on the right.
The left wing will be contested by Moses Ogbu and Ahkeem Rose, with the former likely to start against Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): McKeown; Hewitt,Gibson, Waterfall, Hendrie; Cook, Hessenthaler, Robson; Green, Hanson, Ogbu
1. Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet in the 2019-20 campaign in all competitions so far.
2. Chelsea are yet to record a home win in all competitions under Frank Lampard.
3. Grimsby Town have scored just 5 goals in their last 5 matches in all competitions.
4. Chelsea have failed to score just twice in the 2019-20 campaign in all competitions so far.
5. James Hanson has 5 goals and 3 assists in 10 League Two appearances.
Player to Watch
It has to be Pulisic. The USMNT star finds himself on the fringes of the starting lineup, with Willian being preferred over him, despite his above average performances in the chances he was given. The former Borussia Dortmund forward will now look to prove his worth to Frank Lampard, who seems to favour Willian over him.
Pulisic has to gain the manager’s trust, something which was evident to be lacking as he wasn’t even brought in a substitute when Chelsea needed some firepower to overcome the deficit against Liverpool over the weekend.
The USMNT star will need to prove he is a game changer and one who needs to start most games for Chelsea going forward. The game against Grimsby can provide a platform for the same.
Chelsea 3-1 Grimsby Town
We don’t think the Carabao Cup fixture will hand Chelsea their first clean sheet under Frank Lampard, especially with James Hanson in the form that he is in. Grimsby Town will come to Stamford Bridge aware of the home side’s struggles at SW6 this season.
But, Chelsea should have enough in them to ward off the threat of the League Two side. Expect goals at both ends in the encounter, something which has become a staple at Chelsea games this season. We are going with a comfortable 3-1 win for Chelsea, who should have enough quality to progress to the Fourth Round over Grimsby.