After two disappointing performances against Newcastle and Arsenal (with Chelsea only picking up one point between the two), the Blues will be looking to secure a win as they head into a crucial period of matches. The trip to Hull will be followed by Leicester (also away) while Manchester United, Tottenham and Bayern Munich will make the journey to Stamford Bridge…all in the space of 8 days. A win at Hull is crucial to not only progress in the FA Cup, but also to bring some much needed confidence ahead of the upcoming fixtures.
In the last round, Chelsea saw off Nottingham Forest with a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge. They played a very strong team while also donning the magnificent new FA Cup kit, which will be worn again on Saturday. I’d expect a similarly strong team to start at the KCOM Stadium as Lampard looks for his only realistic chance of silverware in his first season as manager. There is a 16-day winter break after the Leicester game, so resting too many players most likely will not be in the forefront of his mind. He’ll be aware that a win with the majority of regulars playing could help boost confidence levels, while also giving them another opportunity to improve on breaking down the elusive low block.
Hull City currently sit in 12th place in the Championship and are in very patchy form. It’s difficult to tell which side will turn up on Saturday. The team that recently won three in a row, or the one that has just lost two on the bounce? Either way, Chelsea should prepare for a tough game against a team that will set up defensively-strong and be looking to reduce the Blues’ chance-creation. It’s a scenario that we’ve faced plenty of times this season, yet has been our key weakness.
Reece James’ knee injury was only minor and after a rest midweek against Arsenal, there will be hope for him to be involved. While the extent of Tammy Abraham’s injury is unknown, it is likely he would’ve been rested for this game either way. Christian Pulisic also remains sidelined with an adductor injury, but is expected to return for the United game on February 17. Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains the only long term absentee, with no set return date as of yet.
Because the FA Cup represents Chelsea’s only real chance of silverware this season (barring an incredible run in Europe), I’d expect Lampard to play a strong side, similar to the one that faced Nottingham Forest. This competition represents a chance to win a trophy and ultimately help instil a winning mentality and motivation in this young Chelsea squad. We need to put 100% into every game, and this seems to be lacking at the minute.
Chelsea are the favourites, but they must give a solid performance to secure advancement to the next round. A performance reminiscent of the Burnley game at Stamford Bridge would be ideal; that match we successfully broke down a low block better than any other this season so far.
Time to get back on track with a win. UTC