Chelsea will get their League Cup campaign under way this week as they face Championship side Bolton at Stamford Bridge. The Blues haven’t won this trophy since 2007, and they’ll be looking to go further than their quarter final exit last season.
Chelsea come in to this on the back of a 1-1 draw with Manchester City, a game which saw their record goal scorer Frank Lampard score against them to equalise with just five minutes left. Despite that, The Blues still sit top of the league, 40 places above Bolton. Dougie Freedman’s side are just above the relegation zone in the second tier, having had a poor start to the season.
After Lampard’s exploits, Chelsea may be giving a run out to a few of the legends still at the club, as well as a few for the future. Jose Mourinho has said Diego Costa can’t play three games in a week, so he’ll be rested, with Didier Drogba possibly getting a start. If Drogba doesn’t start the game, then we’ll be seeing the full debut of Loic Remy, who hasn’t featured in their last two games.
In goal, we could see Petr Cech make his first start of the season as well. Jose Mourinho has been reluctant to paint Cech as the Cup goalkeeper, saying that he can rotate between him and Courtois for any game in any competition. But, with Cech yet to play this season, it’s likely he will be given a game. A player of his stature may be too good to just play League Cup games, but he’s also too good to stay on the bench.
In defence expect a few changes as well, with John Terry likely to sit out, and possibly Gary Cahill too. We could see Kurt Zouma or Nathan Ake making their first starts of the season, while Filipe Luis is likely to make his third appearance.
In midfield expect the players who sat out against City to feature. Jon Obi Mikel and Andre Schurrle both came on in the second half of that game, and they could both start here. Mo Salah, who has only played once so far, is likely to get a start as well. Oscar has missed the last two games as Mourinho moved to a 4-3-3 formation, but he’s likely to return on Wednesday along with the 4-2-3-1.
Last season Mourinho liked to throw in a few first team regulars alongside his changes, so don’t be surprised to see the likes of Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic or Cesar Azpilicueta in the team to lend their experience. He has also said that some of the young players, including Andreas Christensen, Isaiah Brown, Lewis Baker and Dominic Solanke will be given chances in cup games, so expect to see a few of them on the bench.
While this is a chance to hand out starts for the squad players, Mourinho would like to win his first trophy of his second spell as soon as possible. This is a competition we tipped the Blues to win, and you can bet they’ll take it seriously.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-0