Chelsea face League Two side Shrewsbury on Tuesday night as they look to book a place in the quarter finals of the League Cup. The Premier League leaders are obviously strong favourites to win this game, but they will make several changes with a couple of fringe players sure to be handed a game.
The Blues have a mini injury and suspension crisis at the moment, with several first team players unavailable. With a Premier League clash with QPR coming up at the weekend, Mourinho will want to give his main men a rest. Petr Cech came in for Thibaut Courtois in the last cup game against Bolton, and he should do the same again here.
In defence, Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic are both suspended after recent red cards, while John Terry could be rested. Youngster Nathan Ake will likely come in at right back, with Filipe Luis at left back, and Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma in the centre. That leaves Chelsea’s defensive options sapped, and we’ll likely see 18-year-old Andreas Christensen take up a place on the bench.
In midfield, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas should both be rested, with John Obi Mikel and Ramires coming to replace them. Ramires has just recovered from injury, and he’ll need the minutes to get back to fitness. If Ramires isn’t quite fit, then we may see Lewis Baker get a start. Given the level of the opposition, it shouldn’t be too much to give any of the youngsters a start here, they should be able to cope.
Further ahead in midfield Mohammed Salah is likely to play after a limited number of appearances in the league. Andre Schurrle could play after suffering with illness in the last couple of weeks, while youngster Issiah Brown should make the bench. Oscar played in the last cup game against Bolton, so he’s likely to round out the midfield.
Up front, with Loic Remy out, Didier Drogba will likely make another start after his goal at Old Trafford on Sunday. Though Drogba may be rested, if Diego Costa isn’t going to be fit for the weekend game with QPR. Remy is definitely out of that game, and if Costa can’t make it, we may see Drogba sit out the game and Dominic Solanke could make his first Chelsea start up front.
Given that Costa was close to being fit for the game on Sunday, he should be ready for the QPR game, so it’s likely that Drogba will lead the line at Shrewsbury. Given the problems he caused United from set pieces, it would be interesting to see how the Shrewsbury defence would cope with him.
Mourinho’s line up will give us a hint at how much he trusts his batch of youngsters. While he’s said they’re going to be held back and given occasional game time, he may need to call on them from the start here with the current injury list. Will he trust them to start and give his established stars a rest? It should be interesting, as Mourinho is hardly one to pass up the chance to win a trophy.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-0