Chelsea will be aiming to bounce back after their weekend heartbreak when they lock horns with Luton Town in the FA Cup fifth round.
Chelsea will be looking to keep their chances of winning the FA Cup alive when they take on EFL Championship outfit Luton Town in the fifth round of the competition at Kenilworth Road on Wednesday night.
Chelsea head into the midweek encounter after losing to Liverpool in the final of the Carabao Cup in a close encounter that was decided on penalties. Having already won two trophies this term, the Blues missed out on a third one narrowly and will want to produce a strong reaction and advance through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, having beaten Chesterfield and Plymouth Argyle in the last two rounds.
Luton Town, meanwhile, are enjoying a good season in the Championship. They sit sixth in the table and are contenders to earn a spot in the playoffs. The Hatters made light work of Harrogate Town and Cambridge United in their last two FA Cup fixtures and go into the clash against Chelsea on the back of three consecutive victories, beating Derby County 1-0 in their most recent outing.
The last time Chelsea and Luton Town faced each other was in the FA Cup last year, with the Blues emerging 3-1 winners. Ahead of their upcoming encounter at Kenilworth Road, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
🗣️ "It is one for the fans. The manner in which they supported us through Covid, we wanted a big tie so the fans can see us come up against a big Premier League team."#COYH
— Luton Town FC (@LutonTown) March 1, 2022
Luke Berry, Jordain Clark and Robert Snodgrass are all set to miss out due to injuries, while manager Nathan Jones also insisted that he will not be risking the fatigued Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu. Henri Lansbury came out with a knock against Derby County and is a doubt for the contest. Elijah Adebayo was also taken off with a knock and is a doubt for the game against Chelsea.
The Hatters are expected to line up in a 3-5-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Jed Steer, with Jones expected to field his strongest XI in search of an upset against the European and World champions. Reece Burke, Tom Lockyer and Kal Naismith should form the three-man defensive rearguard that will look to repel the Chelsea forwards.
James Bree and Amari’i Bell ought to take up the wing-back slots and look to provide attacking width when Luton are in possession. However, with Chelsea likely to have most of the ball on Wednesday, the duo could end up dropping deep to form a five-man backline.
Gabriel Osho will be expected to sit deep in the middle of the park and provide an extra layer of security. Should he be passed fit, Lansbury ought to partner Osho in the centre while the third slot could be taken up by Allan Campbell, who has scored four goals this season.
Top-scorer Adebayo should shake off his fitness problem to get the nod up top, where he is likely to be partnered by Harry Cornick, with Danny Hylton also being an option for the manager.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Steer; Burke, Lockyer, Naismith; Bree, Campbell, Osho, Lansbury, Bell; Adebayo, Cornick
Hakim Ziyech will miss out again for Chelsea after sitting out of the Carabao Cup final with an injury. Ben Chilwell remains a long-term absentee, while Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are also major doubts.
The German tactician is expected to make several changes to the team that started Sunday evening. Edouard Mendy, who put up a brilliant display in the Carabao Cup final, could make way for Kepa Arrizabalaga, who will be eager to bounce back after his shootout disaster against Liverpool.
A new challenge. 🔵#EmiratesFACup
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 1, 2022
Trevoh Chalobah and Antonio Rudiger ought to occupy the centre-back slots in a traditional four-man backline. Despite James’ recent return from an injury, he might feature from kickoff against the Hatters, while Malang Sarr should start at left-back ahead of Marcos Alonso.
Both N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic ran themselves into the ground for more than 100 minutes on Sunday and should get a rest against Luton. It should pave the way for Jorginho and on-loan midfielder Saul Niguez to start at Kenilworth Road.
Mason Mount could also be given a break by Tuchel, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek likely to come into the side along with Callum Hudson-Odoi, both of whom will slot in as the attacking midfielders in Chelsea’s 4-2-2-2 setup. Ross Barkley could also get some minutes in the game along with youngsters like Harvey Vale and Lewis Hall. Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner should be the two strikers.
Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Kepa; James, Chalobah, Rudiger, Sarr; Jorginho, Saul; Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi; Lukaku, Werner
- Luton Town and Chelsea are meeting in the FA Cup for the second consecutive season, with Chelsea running out 3-1 victors at Stamford Bridge in the fourth round last season.
- Luton Town have won four of their last five home matches against Chelsea (L1) – all in the top-flight – keeping a clean sheet in each of the victories.
- Chelsea have only won one of their last 13 away games versus Luton Town (D5 L7).
- Between them, Luton and Chelsea have scored 14 goals in the FA Cup this season. Each side have had seven different players find the back of the net exactly once.
- Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku’s first FA Cup goal was back in March 2014 in a 4-1 loss to Arsenal while he was at Everton. Since that game, only Kelechi Iheanacho (15) has scored more goals in the competition than the Belgian international (14).
Player to Watch
Thomas Tuchel says Kepa has returned to Chelsea training in a focused and relaxed way after the #CarabaoCupFinal.
He didn't confirm whether it'll be the Spaniard or Edou Mendy in goal tomorrow, but his decision has already been made.
More below 👇https://t.co/zLcGCFeg23
— Adam Newson (@AdamNewson) March 1, 2022
After what went down on Sunday evening at Wembley Stadium, all eyes will be on Kepa Arrizabalaga when Chelsea take on Luton Town. With Edouard Mendy not spotted in training on Tuesday, there is a strong chance that the world’s most expensive goalkeeper could start. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from the disappointment of the Carabao Cup.
A penalty specialist for Chelsea, Kepa was brought on just before the shootout, but he failed to save any of Liverpool’s 11 spot-kicks. He then lost the game for his team by firing his penalty up into the stands. Naturally, the Spanish international will have been distraught by the events and will be keen to put it all behind him and deliver for Chelsea on Wednesday.
Luton Town 1-2 Chelsea
Luton Town head into the game high on confidence, having won each of their last three games and five in their previous six. On the other hand, Chelsea will be licking their wounds after the Carabao Cup disappointment and raring to produce a strong reaction at Kenilworth Road.
Chelsea picked up an easy victory the last time these two teams met. However, things are unlikely to be as easy this time out, with the Championship club in good form while also being buoyed by their home support. With the Blues set to ring in the changes, it will make for a more interesting battle.
However, Thomas Tuchel’s side are European and World champions for a reason. Despite the chopping and changing, they should have enough quality to see off their opponents and progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.