Chelsea v Watford Preview (FA Cup) – 4th January 2014

Chelsea take on Watford on Sunday as they kick off their FA Cup campaign. The Championship side come here as big outsiders, and the Blues will be hoping for a comfortable win to erase memories of their humbling defeat to Spurs on New Year’s Day.

The Blues have been handed a good draw here, avoiding a trickier side and getting to play at home, and they’ll expect to make it through to the fourth round, so we’ll no doubt see a bit of player rotation here. Given how tired some of the squad looked in the last game, it seems likely that a few players could do with a rest.

We expect to see Petr Cech come in, along with the likes of Kurt Zouma, John Obi Mikel, Mohammed Salah and even possibly a couple of academy stars. Given that Chelsea don’t have a squad player for every position, a few youngsters might get a call up, as this is the perfect opportunity for them to get a run out, especially at Stamford Bridge. Nathan Ake is another who could come in, having missed a large part of the season though injury.

Watford are doing well in the Championship, currently sitting in fifth place as they look to secure promotion to the Premier League for the first time since 2006. They come here after four wins from their last five games, so expect them to be full of confidence, especially as this is a game where they have nothing to lose.

The Blues saw how difficult Championship opposition can be in their recent League Cup quarter final clash with Derby, where they ran out 3-1 winners but had to put up with significant pressure from the home side. This game shouldn’t be as tough as that, with it being at Stamford Bridge. Despite that, they need to be on their toes to avoid an upset here, as we all know the reputation the FA Cup has for shocks. They certainly need to put in an improved performance from the game at White Hart Lane.

We know Jose Mourinho values trophies, so he’ll be taking this game very seriously. With Chelsea still in all four competitions at the minute, there is still the chance of an unprecedented trophy haul this term. Even if that doesn’t happen, the Blues and their manager will want to win as much as they can this term, given their trophy-less 2013-14 season. A third round exit to Watford at home just isn’t an option.

The Blues will be looking for a first FA Cup win since 2012, to add to their impressive record in the competition. Having won it four times since 2007, Chelsea have a history with the cup in recent years that many can only dream of. Mourinho kick-started all that by winning it in 2007, and now he’ll be looking to repeat the trick. Before he does that, of course, he needs to guide his team past Watford.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0