With the Capital One Cup kicking off this mid-week in England; there are a lot of teams who will be looking to take this competition seriously, in hope of grabbing a trophy come February/March.
Jose Mourinho’s team need a victory in order to turn around their wretched form after they were beaten by this season’s Giant Killers in West Ham; and will have a lot to do tonight in order to re-capture the support from the Chelsea faithful as well as the Stamford Bridge board, who are considering replacements for him.
Chelsea will need to put in a strong showing particularly up front in order to shower the fans with some goals to showcase their progress. I expect Mourinho to put out his strongest possible side, despite it being a Capital One Cup fixture, as he needs a win to survive in his job. At the back should be a debut for keeper Amelia who will be supported by a back 4 of Azpilicueta, Zouma, Terry and Rahman at the back. The midfield should pick itself with Fabregas and Mikel to lineup supported in front by Willian, Hazard and Ramires with Costa probably up front. This team boasts Chelsea’s best opportunity to net some goals and Mourinho despite not being on the touchline will be barking the instructions through his assistants. The team will be set up with some freedom since Matic is not there and despite Mikel standing in there, he will be encouraged at times to support the attack as Chelsea have their destiny in their hands.
Stoke City were extremely disappointed to lose on the weekend to Watford at the Britannia, in what should have been a straightforward victory for a team who had confidence after beating Swansea City last Monday. They have an extremely talented front 4, that can do the job against most teams on their best team including Diouf, Bojan, Arnautovic and Shaqiri. I won’t be surprised if Stoke might shuffle the pack to include Walters instead of Arnautovic & Affellay instead of Shaqiri to give them more playing time. Defensively, Stoke will be happy to most likely welcome back club captain Ryan Shawcross back to the fold to support Cameron in the middle of the park.
Both teams have shown on the weekend, how vulnerable they are the back leaking 2 goals each, however, both know for them this is the best opportunity to grab some silverware this season. With Chelsea’s defensive struggles and in particular away from home, there have been over 2.5 goals in 7 out of their last 8 road games. With their manager not on the touchline to organise them, I feel it will be a bit more lose and I expect good amount of goals in this encounter.