Chelsea are back in FA Cup action on Friday night, as Championship side Hull City head to Stamford Bridge. The Premier League champions are obviously heavy favourites to progress, given that they’re meeting a struggling second tier outfit in this clash.
While there have been problems surrounding the Blues in recent weeks, it’s hard to see a situation whereby they end up exiting the cup this weekend. After all, they should have far too much for the Tigers, even taking in heavy rotation into account. With the hosts aiming to go one better than last year in this competition, the stage does seem set for them to book a place in the quarter-finals.
Hull are hoping to lift the gloom after a tough 18 months by going on a cup run. The Tigers were finalists in this competition back in 2014, but can they go that far again? Having slumped in the Championship and after drawing the Premier League champions, you would imagine that the Tigers are cursing their luck. Having seen Chelsea just beat West Brom 3-0, you have to wonder how they’ll get on when they meet a poor side from the Championship this weekend.
Team News: Changes Likely Ahead of Catalan Visit
Antonio Conte doesn’t have a lengthy injury list this weekend, with Marcos Alonso and Ross Barkley both doubts. The Italian could have easily started without the pair anyway. With Barcelona heading for the Bridge in midweek, we expect that Conte will be looking to make changes for this clash. He’s likely to rest most of the back five, while Thibaut Courtois will sit out. Danny Drinkwater could make a start in midfield, while Willian and Pedro are the frontrunners to start behind Olivier Giroud this weekend, as Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata are held back for the clash with the Catalans.
Sadly, Hull man Ryan Mason retired in the lead-up to this game. It’s over a year ago that he fractured his skull at the Bridge in an aerial battle with Gary Cahill, and medical advice has told him not to return to the game. On top of that, the visitors have some selection issues to concern themselves with, as they have three Chelsea loanees. Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori and Michael Hector are all unavailable for this game, so they all sit out. Without forward Abel Hernandez, the Tigers are significantly weakened going into this clash.
The Tigers have only just dropped down to the second tier, but they are battling against relegation to League One. They’ve found themselves in the relegation mix in recent months, having climbed out with a 2-0 win last weekend. They’ve won just six games in the Championship this term, suffering 14 defeats in 31 matches. Having scored less than a goal per game on the road in the league this term, which doesn’t bode well for a clash with Premier League opposition.
Hull have been particularly poor on the road this season, having lost nine of their 16 away trips. The Tigers have managed just two away wins in the Championship, and the highest placed team they’ve beaten on the road is 17th placed Nottingham Forest. In 12 meetings with the top nine sides, they’ve won none, losing nine. While victories against Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest have taken them in to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, the Tigers are likely to struggle when they meet the Premier League champions.
Chelsea v Hull Head to Head
Chelsea come into this clash having won their last six clashes with Hull. They won to nil home and away to the Tigers last term, as the two sides went in very different directions. The first victory last term – a 2-0 win at Hull – was the first time Conte started out with a back three as Chelsea boss. That win was a shaky one, but it kicked off the winning run which fired the Blues towards last season’s Premier League title.
- Chelsea 2-0 Hull, Jan 2017
- Hull 0-2 Chelsea, Oct 2016
- Hull 2-3 Chelsea, Mar 2015
- Chelsea 2-0 Hull, Dec 2014
- Hull 0-2 Chelsea, Jan 2014
- Chelsea half-time/full-time – 3/4 with Ladbrokes
- Chelsea to win 2-0 – 5/1 with BetVictor
The Blues are priced at 1/5 with Betfred to win this game, while they’re 1/14 with Betfair to qualify for the quarter-finals. The draw can be backed at 6/1 with Betfair in this game, while you can back Hull at 16/1 with Coral. The Premier League side are clear favourites for this clash, but can they live up to that favourites tag? We’ve had a look around at the betting on this one, as we look to find a couple of alternative picks with some better value.
While the Blues are likely to make changes, they’re set to include some big money signings in the mix. The likes of Willian, Pedro and Giroud should all make enough of an impact to leave key names out, as Conte looks to balance his side’s chances across multiple competitions. Of course, the Tigers are more significantly weakened than Chelsea – even with rotation taken into account. We struggle to see how the Championship side get anything out of this game given the gulf in class between them.
We’re backing Chelsea to take control of this tie early on, as we’re tipping them to be ahead at the end of each half. They seem like great value at 3/4 with Ladbrokes on the half-time/full-time market, which is our first tip. We’re also backing a comfortable 2-0 win for the Blues, given their excellent winning run against the Tigers. They won both meetings last season 2-0, while the last three encounters at Stamford Bridge have seen the Blues win 2-0, so we’re backing a repeat at 5/1 with BetVictor.