Chelsea are looking to pick themselves up by booking a place at Wembley with a win over Liverpool after Saturday’s abysmal 4-2 defeat by Bradford. The Blues will need to improve massively if they’re to avoid crashing out of a second competition in the space of a few days. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Anfield, Chelsea are favourites to progress to March’s League Cup final.
After Jose Mourinho named a massively changed side for the Bradford game, he’s in a bit of a predicament ahead of this match. The players brought in did little to impress, and they’re unlikely to be given another chance on Tuesday. But, with a huge league game against Manchester City coming up on Saturday, can Mourinho afford to play his big names?
He doesn’t seem to have much choice at the minute, after the shambles into which the second string descended on Saturday. John Terry needs to come back, as his importance to the team has rarely ever seemed so clear. Nemanja Matic was missed, as were the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard. With the second string low on confidence, the first team will have to play, despite the enormity of the game on Saturday.
Liverpool will come here buoyed by the Bradford result and their performance in the first leg. The Reds had 20 shots on goal at Anfield last week, and they cut through the Blues’ backline after some great play by Raheem Sterling. Coming to the Bridge level keeps them in the game, even if they face a tough ask to get through. The weekend performance means they’ll believe they can progress to the final, with Brendan Rodgers on the lookout for his first trophy.
A title winning team, and a Mourinho team, is defined by their ability to bounce back from a setback. Chelsea have done that well in recent years, and this is the perfect way to bounce back from the FA Cup result. While no one will be happy with it, booking a League Cup final place will overshadow a shock early defeat in the FA Cup. Given that the Bridge had a subdued atmosphere in the home ends on Saturday, this is the perfect way to liven up the Bridge, just as Mourinho demanded weeks ago.
While the League Cup isn’t top of many people’s list of priorities, it’s still a trophy. Mourinho has spoken before about the positive effect it can have on the team to win it going into the latter stages of the season, so you can bet he’ll be taking it seriously. His words before and after the Bradford game were about challenging on all fronts no matter what effect it has on the title race, so he’s clearly up for this game.
We should see a more attacking team than the one that played at Anfield, with John Obi Mikel likely to make way for Oscar. It’s not enough to sit back on the result they have, a win is needed to put the game to bed early ahead of the City game. After the weekend’s cup shock, Chelsea certainly need a response.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1