Chelsea will be looking to kickstart their FA Cup campaign on a positive note when they lock horns with Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Frank Lampard will have some respite and an opportunity to shuffle his pack when Chelsea play hosts to Nottingham Forest in the third round of FA Cup on Sunday. The Blues, like most other Premier League clubs, have had a hectic holiday schedule.
They are coming on the back of a strenuous 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion in midweek, meaning their mid-seasons woes continue, with the club registering only two wins in their last six domestic matches. This has had a grave impact on their challenge for top-four, even though Chelsea are handsomely leading fifth-placed Manchester United.
Nottingham Forest, on contrast, have enjoyed an excellent run of form, having won all of their last three matches in the Championship. They are currently fourth in the English second division, trailing third-placed Brentford only due to an inferior goal difference.
That being said, they will be keen on causing an upset this weekend by thwarting the defending champions of this coveted tournament. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this enticing FA Cup tie on Sunday.
Tactics & Team News
As iterated earlier, Lampard could shuffle this pack in this FA Cup fixture, even in goal, with Kepa Arrizabalaga likely to make way for the much-maligned figure of Willy Caballero. The Argentine has featured in the cup games so far this season.
There could be a change at right-back, with Tariq Lamptey, who made his debut against Arsenal, tipped to start ahead of Reece James. Cesar Azpilicueta, meanwhile, could make way for Emerson. In central defence, Antonio Rudiger could be given a breather, with Lampard likely to hand Andreas Christensen a rare start.
The Dane is expected to feature alongside Kurt Zouma at the heart of Chelsea’s four-man backline.
Moving forward, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante could be both be rested, paving the way for Billy Gilmour and Mateo Kovacic to return to the starting eleven. Ross Barkley is also a favourite to start, at the expense of Mason Mount, who did feature in the draw with Brighton.
Tammy Abraham is guaranteed to be benched this weekend, meaning Michy Batshuayi could get a rare opportunity in the number nine role. The Belgian has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, and this could be an excellent opportunity for him to prove his worth.
Same can be said for Pedro, who is now being linked with a potential return to Barcelona. He could replace Willian at right-wing, with Callum Hudson-Odoi coming in on for Christian Pulisic on the opposite flank.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Caballero; Lamptey, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson; Kovacic, Gilmour, Mount; Pedro, Batshuayi, Hudson-Odoi
Unlike Lampard, Nottingham Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi is not expected to make too many alternations to his side as they look to take on the Blues. However, Chema Rodriguez has been ruled out after being forced off early in the win over Blackburn. He is expected to be replaced by Jack Robinson at left-back.
Matthew Cash, meanwhile, could retain his place on the opposite flank as well as the central defensive duo of Tobias Figueiredo and Joe Worrall, who will be keen on making an impression, having been regarded as one of the most promising defensive prospects in the Championship.
Samba Sow’s defensive output could be needed in central midfield, with Nottingham likely to employ a deep defensive block, meaning their second line of press could be crucial. Hence, it will be interesting to see how the duo of Ben Watson and Sow cope with Chelsea’s midfield unit.
Moving forward, Sammy Ameobi could be preferred ahead of Joao Carvalho at left-wing while both Tiago Silva and Joe Lolley will retain their place in the starting lineup. Lolley, in particular, has been in fine form, of late and might be one to watch out for.
And finally, the Nottingham Forest attack will be led by none other than Lewis Grabban, who, having scored 14 goals this season, is the club’s top scorer. The ex-Bournemouth forward is coming on the back of scoring a brace in midweek and will be keen on proving his worth against Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Muric; Cash, Worrall, Figueiredo, Robinson; Sow, Watson; Lolley, Silva, Ameobi; Grabban
- This is the fifth time Chelsea and Nottingham Forest have met in an FA Cup tie – the Blues have progressed from all four, including a third-round 2-0 win last season.
- Nottingham Forest have lost their last five away matches against Chelsea in all competitions, with three of those defeats coming in FA Cup meetings.
- Chelsea have been eliminated from just two of their last 50 FA Cup ties against teams from outside the Premier League, losing 1-0 to Barnsley in 2008 and 4-2 against Bradford City in 2015.
- Nottingham Forest were eliminated by Chelsea in the third round last season – the last team to knock Forest out of the FA Cup in consecutive seasons were Liverpool in 1987-88 and 1988-89.
- In seven matches in domestic cup competitions for Chelsae, against lower league opposition, striker Michy Batshuayi has scored ten goals and assisted three more, including a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest in a League Cup match in September 2017.
Player to Watch
Gilmour has made quite an impression this season, having already made two appearances in the Carabao Cup. He is also regarded as one of the most promising young players to come out of the Chelsea youth academy in recent years. Hence, this could be an exciting opportunity for him to build his reputation further.
Gilmour’s ability to circulate the ball, coupled with his composed ball retention in the middle of the park could be essential for Chelsea as they attempt to dominate possession. Especially in the likely absence of Jorginho, it would be interesting to see how the young Scot manages to dictate the ball in midfield and outwit the hard-working set of Nottingham Forest midfielders.
Chelsea 2-0 Nottingham Forest
Chelsea are huge favourites to advance to the next round given their excellent record against non-Premier League teams in the FA Cup. They also have the home support behind them as well as the fact that nearly all of the likely players who are expected to start are fresh and roaring to make an impression. Hence, we expect a 2-0 win for the Blues.