A welcomed break from the nerves that come from watching a Chelsea Premier League match. The way we’ve played and approached games this season has left the heart racing and the fans shaking. The VAR decision at the weekend against Liverpool perfectly sums up our crazy start to the season. Moments of joy quickly snatched away with strikes of realism. This Carabao Cup fixture presents the opportunity for a different type of game. A chance to control a match and display our talent for a full 90 minutes. Many may disregard the opposition but with our coach’s awareness of historic cup competition shocks, I don’t expect complacency to be an issue for our team. With many players needing a good performance to boost their own confidence and get themselves into the picture for first team starts, commitment and application to the game is the bare minimum.
Coming into this game Chelsea have scored 12 goals and conceded 13 in the Premier League. A stat that suggests nothing short of inconsistency. A goal scoring record only bettered by Manchester City (24) and Liverpool (17) alike, however Chelsea are yet to keep a clean sheet in Lampard’s reign in all competitions which means a clean sheet tomorrow would not only be a welcomed one, but also a confidence boost for the backline. Even more reason to maintain concentration throughout and not underestimate the opposition. For those fans who remember Bradford’s City’s famous win against Chelsea in the FA Cup 2015 campaign I’m hoping we also don’t underestimate the opponent. Too often the crowd at Stamford bridge in previous years have been more reactive than proactive when vocalising their support. Privileged enough to attend I’m hoping for a good cup atmosphere. This is after all, our first knockout game of the season.
So, let’s talk about the team. With Chelsea abandoning the pre match press conference for this fixture it’s left for us to speculate on who could get their big break at the Bridge.
The man looking for his first senior start. A creative midfielder highly rated amongst the Chelsea faithful. Gilmour is calm and collected on the ball and has the ability to dictate the game in a wide range of midfield positions. In our midfield 3 I think it’s possible he could fit in for all those positions. Whether it’s from deep or further forward Billy has the potential to create chances. In a Chelsea team that struggles to break down better defences in open play, an impactful performance from Billy tomorrow could well see him feature more often soon. Particularly with our unfortunate injury record so far this season.
It’s hard to believe this widely covered youngster is potentially making his Chelsea debut tomorrow. However, these are the facts we face, a player with unlimited potential and all the tools to make it in the modern game whilst possessing the physical strengths needed to bully opposing attackers. His versatility is underestimated, and I’d love to see him in his best and natural position right back/right wing back. However, should there come a time Chelsea need to change tactically or indeed we sign more competition in the future, Reece James is more than equipped to perform at CDM also as he proved last year at Wigan. A position that could certainly use some depth at Chelsea.
A second striker with the knowhow and physicality to become box to box. It’s his presence and eye for goal that stands out when we talk of Tino. Unlikely to start but with it confirmed he’s in the squad his first appearance could well be coming. With a similar stature to the often injured brilliant talent that is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the opportunity is there to stake a claim for an understudy role in the coming years. Especially with Barkley yet to impress so far this season.
A quick pacey technical left back that has been shining in the development squad over the last year with devastating link up play with Juan Castillo now of Ajax, he really has progressed immensely. Glimpses were seen in pre-season in Chelsea’s Tour of Dublin, Ireland and with Emerson today confirmed injured until the next International break. Our Carabao cup game presents the perfect opportunity to see what competition Maatsen can bring to our only available senior left back, Alonso.
Finally, a young promising centre back with bags of potential, who stood out alongside Rudiger in a recent development game, has been the long-standing commander at the back for our youth team since Trevor Chalobah departed on loan. Out of all the options, he may have the toughest chance of breaking in with the competition he faces. Just the four senior centre backs ahead of him in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge. However, with Chelsea’s poor defensive record so far this season and the outbreak of Tomori, who is already becoming a fans favoyrite and looking the part, who’s to say a commanding debut won’t have Frank second guessing. Everton are sure to continue their long-standing interest in Zouma this coming January and if he can’t replicate the good performance against Liverpool on a consistent basis, a big bid could well tempt the club, considering the vast amount of options available to them. Guehi is fighting Ampadu, currently on loan at RB Leipzig, and tomorrow presents the perfect chance to gain the edge.
With experience blended in and much needed game time for the likes of Pulisic, the Carabao Cup game against Grimsby may just serve better purpose than in years gone by. So much can be achieved in these 90 minutes, more than just progressing to the next round. I’ll be in attendance for a breath of fresh air…