Chelsea will be aiming to advance to the fourth round of the 2020/21 FA Cup when they lock horns with League Two outfit Morecambe at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways when they face off against fourth-tier club Morecambe FC in the third round of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
Finalists in the last edition of the FA Cup, Chelsea are going through a difficult run heading into the weekend game, winning just one of their last seven in all competitions. After a timid display in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City last time out, manager Frank Lampard is under pressure to turn things around and will be hoping his players step up on Sunday.
Morecambe, unlike their weekend opponents, have been in the FA Cup since the first round and made it to this stage after beating Maldon & Triptree and Solihull Moors. Derek Adams’ side have won each of their last four games, beating Grimsby Town 3-1 in their most recent fixture on Boxing Day last month and will be gunning for an upset win at Stamford Bridge.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Chelsea and Morecambe and ahead of the contest, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Reece James and Andreas Christensen will miss the weekend game due to injuries, along with N’Golo Kante, who is nursing a hamstring problem. Frank Lampard is likely to hand opportunities to his non-regulars and provide minutes to some of the up and coming academy products on Sunday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga ought to get a rare start in goal ahead of Edouard Mendy. Cesar Azpilicueta should get the nod at right-back again while Emerson Palmieri should come in at left-back ahead of Ben Chilwell. With Chelsea likely to dominate proceedings, there is a good chance that the duo spends more time camped up in the opposition half, looking to hit crosses into the box.
Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva have been the preferred options at the heart of the defence for Chelsea this term. But the pair is likely to be given a breather here, with Antonio Rudiger and Fikayo Tomori in line for rare appearances.
Billy Gilmour has impressed in the few games he has played after returning from injury. He should start on Sunday, providing the tenacity and bite in midfield. Jorginho should get the nod alongside him, with his ability to open up defences likely to come in handy against Morecambe.
Kai Havertz and Timo Werner are both likely to feature from kick-off, in hope that a run-out against a lower league opponent can spark the duo into form. The former will slot in as the No. 10, while the latter spearheads the attack. Callum Hudson-Odoi, who scored in the defeat against Manchester City should get the nod on the wings, along with youngster Tino Anjorin, who impressed on his full debut against Krasnodar.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Tomori, Rudiger, Emerson; Jorginho, Gilmour; Hudson-Odoi, Havertz, Anjorin; Werner
This will be Morecambe’s first game since Boxing Day with the club having gone into self-isolation after a coronavirus outbreak within the squad during the festive period. This led to two of their League Two games getting cancelled. With the players resuming training only this Tuesday, it will be interesting to see what kind of team Derek Adams picks on Tuesday.
— Morecambe FC (@ShrimpsOfficial) January 5, 2021
The Shrimps are likely to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that they have preferred for most of the season. Jake Turner will be lining up in goal where he could be in for a busy afternoon. He will need all the protection he can get from the backline comprising of Ryan Cooney, Sam Lavelle, Harry Davis and Stephen Hendrie.
Yann Songo’o will be tasked with cutting out the creative influence of Kai Havertz in the middle of the parker. The defensive midfielder will have support from Aaron Wildig in the double pivot, although the latter will also have the responsibility of pushing forward during the attacking phases.
Adam Phillips, who is the highest goalscorer across all competitions for Morecambe (8) and also has the most assists for the season (5), will be the main man in the attacking third, starting as the No. 10. He will have support from the wide attacking duo of John O’Sullivan and Carlos Mendes Gomes, who will look to cause the Blues’ backline problems with his dribbling abilities.
26-year-old Cole Stockton ought to be the man leading the Morecambe attack with AJ Leich-Smith and Jordan Slew providing options from the bench at Stamford Bridge.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Turner; Cooney, Lavelle, Davis, Hendrie; Songo’o, Wildig; O’Sullivan, Phillips, Gomes; Stockton
- This will be the first-ever meeting between Chelsea and Morecambe in any competition.
- This is Morecambe’s second FA Cup meeting against a top-flight opponent. The last time they played such a fixture, they were defeated 3-0 by Ipswich Town in 2000/01 in the third round.
- Since getting eliminated by Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup in 1997/98, Chelsea are unbeaten at this stage of the competition in the last 22 seasons.
- Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in three of their last six FA Cup matches.
- Since November, Morecambe have lost just two of their 13 matches in all competitions (W8 D3). Both the defeats, though, have come away from home.
Player to Watch
Arriving amid much fanfare after a brilliant 2019/20 season with Bayer Leverkusen, Kai Havertz has failed to hit the heights expected of him at Chelsea. The German international wasn’t helped by the fact that he contracted coronavirus, which saw him miss a chunk of the first half of the ongoing campaign.
On Sunday, the 21-year-old’s presence could be crucial for Chelsea against a Morecambe outfit that might look to set up with a deep defensive block at Stamford Bridge. Havertz is known for his chance-creation and the ability to manipulate spaces and make clever off-the-ball runs, which will come in very handy for the Blues to break open the Shrimps’ backline.
Chelsea 3-1 Morecambe
Morecambe have picked up four wins in their last four games. Just two defeats in thirteen matches in all competitions show an indication of the progress that they have made under Derek Adams in recent weeks. But this will be their first match after two weeks, and having only recently returned to training after a period of self-isolation, the Shrimps might be a tad scratchy.
Chelsea, meanwhile, haven’t been in the best form of late, but this game provides them with the best chance of finding their groove again. And even though the Blues haven’t been at their sharpest and will field a changed side, the gulf of quality between the two sides should show at Stamford Bridge. To that end, The Hard Tackle predicts a victory for Frank Lampard & co.