Chelsea kick off their League Cup campaign at Walsall on Wednesday night, and Jose Mourinho looks set to make big changes to the team. The Blues are defending the cup they won last season, and they’ll be targeting another run in the competition after a less than stellar start to the season. Can they avoid an upset and progress to the fourth round? We think they almost certainly can.
The Blues are heavy favourites to see off their League One opponents, but their game against Shrewsbury in the League Cup last season shows they won’t have it all their own way. With a heavily rotated side likely, expect the hosts to have a real go at the Premier League champions.
The team selection is the big story from this game, with Mourinho’s picks now being scrutinised much more intensely than last term. The manager confirmed that John Terry will return to the team for this one, but we don’t know who he’ll replace. Many are calling this a humiliation, as he’s put in with the second string. Terry seems like the type who just wants to play games, so don’t expect him to be too upset by this news. He’ll be happier playing than not playing.
Diego Costa will be sitting out this game, with Falcao confirmed to start up front. The Colombian hasn’t been given much game time so far, so this is a huge chance for him. Given Costa’s headline-grabbing display on Saturday, it’s probably best to give him a break for this game. Especially if it can help Falcao get back to his best.
Hopefully we’ll see a few young stars in this one as well, as that’s always a highlight of these games. Rueben Loftus-Cheek was great in the Champions League last week, and he must be pushing for another start here. I don’t think we can expect to see too many youngsters starting, Mourinho does like to field a strong side in cup matches.
The gulf between these teams does seem like too much for Walsall to bridge. They’ve made a good start in League One, but this will be a completely different test for them. Had this game been a couple of weeks ago they might have fancied their chances a little more, but Chelsea look back to their best after two wins last week.
Losing here and surrendering the trophy that they won last season is unthinkable for Mourinho, especially after the start they made in the league. The memory of that Bradford game will still be hanging over him, so expect the manager to take the hosts seriously, and look to record a comfortable victory.
This game could give us a great insight into the future of the team this season. How will Terry respond to being dropped? How will Falcao get on? Will we get to see Abdul Baba Rahman get another chance at the back? The answers to these questions will all affect the rest of the campaign, which makes this game even bigger.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-0