This weekend sees the return of FA Cup action for Chelsea, as they take on Brentford at Stamford Bridge. Not only are the Blues up against Championship opposition, but they’re facing a local derby, with just six miles separating these two sides. Can the visitors claim a shock cup victory at Stamford Bridge, or will the Premier League leaders continue to compete on two fronts? This should be a straightforward win for the hosts, but things might not be that easy.
The main difficulty for Antonio Conte will be keeping his team focused on this game ahead of a massive week. They face Liverpool and Arsenal in key Premier League matches in the next week. Both of those fixtures are likely to be crucial in deciding the fate of the Premier League title. With those big clashes looming, the Blues boss needs to make sure his side keep their attention focused on beating Brentford before they cast their eyes elsewhere. After all, the Italian will want his side fighting for this trophy too.
Team News: Conte to rotate ahead of big week
Once again Chelsea come here with a fully fit squad from which to choose their starting XI, they have no new injury news. However, we expect a lot of changes to be made from the side who saw off Hull City. Diego Costa only just returned to the side at the weekend, but he’s likely to drop out once again here. Expect some changes in defence, with Kurt Zouma and John Terry likely to feature. Given that there are some huge games in the next week, it’s likely that the Blues will name an almost entirely different side between this game and their trip to Anfield.
Brentford are still in danger of losing key man Scott Hogan, who is being linked with a switch to West Ham. Reports claim that the deal is close, but he could still appear here if that deal isn’t done. The forward appeared in the last round of the cup, so he’s already cup-tied ahead of any potential move. Alan Judge and Lewis Macleod are both out with long term injuries here, while Alan McCormack and Sam Saunders missed out at the weekend and could sit out once again.
Brentford come into this game having lost back to back matches against Newcastle and Wigan. That has left them in 15th place in the Championship table, so they’re some way off the play-off spots. They’re not in huge relegation danger either, they’re just a middling club so far this season. They come into this game having won just one of their last six in the league, which makes them unlikely to pull off a shock result at the Bridge.
Brentford also come here with some really poor away form, having lost 57% of their matches on the road this season. They have just four away wins from 14 games, while they’ve failed to score in 30% of their outings in the Championship this term. They hammered Eastleigh 5-1 to make it to this round of the cup, but things are about to get a lot more difficult for them this weekend. Will they be able to pull a performance out from nowhere, or will they continue their awful away form?
Chelsea v Brentford Head to Head
Aside from their last meeting in this round of the cup, it’s been quite a while since these two sides have met. Despite being local rivals, they’ve played one another just three times in the last 70 years. We doubt those old meetings will play much into this one, but a repeat of Brentford’s 3-1 win here in 1939 would probably be one of the biggest cup upsets ever. Their last meeting at Stamford Bridge was a comfortable 4-0 victory in a cup replay, which came under Rafa Benitez.
- Chelsea 4-0 Brentford, Feb 2013
- Brentford 2-2 Chelsea, Jan 2013
- Brentford 0-2 Chelsea, Mar 1947
- Chelsea 3-2 Brentford, Nov 1946
- Chelsea 1-3 Brentford, Feb 1939
- Chelsea -2 Asian Handicap – 4/5 at Bet365
- Cesc Fabregas to score any time – 19/10 at Betfair
Chelsea come into this game as massive favourites to win here, as you’d expect. They’re priced at just 2/11 with Sky Bet to see off the Bees, with the away side priced at 17/1 with BetVictor to cause a massive shock. An upset here would be up there with the Bradford defeat in terms of shock value, and it would also be a huge dent for the Blues ahead of their big matches over the next week. Conte will want a routine victory here, wrapping things up early on before shifting focus back to the fight for the Premier League title.
The Blues should be able to record a comfortable win without too many problems. They beat Peterborough by three goals in the last round, while 70% of their home Premier League victories have been by two goals or more. The Blues have scored an average of 2.73 and conceded just 0.55 goals per game at home against their fellow top flight sides. Against a team from the division below they should be able to record an even bigger margin of victory. We’re predicting a very comfortable home win for the Blues, as we’re backing them with a -2 Asian Handicap, at 4/5 with Bet365.
With changes likely, we see an appearance by a few players who tend to sit out of Conte’s team. Cesc Fabregas has shown his talents in the starting 11 of late, but he’s hardly the man Conte will turn to for games against Liverpool and Arsenal. The midfielder should look a class above against Championship opposition, and we’re backing him to make an impact when Brentford visit. We like the look of the Spaniard to score any time on Saturday. He’s priced at 19/10 with Betfair to score, and we think he’d due a goal, especially if he gets the full 90 minutes.