Derby v Chelsea Preview (League Cup) – 16th December 2014

Chelsea are looking to claim a place in the semi finals of the League Cup with a win at Championship side Derby this week. Expect changes to the Blues team but with a few first choice players in the side, as Mourinho will be eying some silverware in this competition.

It was at this stage last season where Chelsea crashed out, going down 2-1 at Sunderland after extra time. They lead at the Stadium of Light for most of the game, but they couldn’t finish their chances and conceded late on against the buoyed Mackems. Hopefully there will be a different outcome this season.

That game highlighted many problems for Mourinho, and after that he went to a more defensive approach, because he didn’t trust his strikers to finish enough chances. He went out and improved that in the summer, signing Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Didier Drogba.

The Blues have certainly been impressive going forward this term, no matter which striker has featured up front. For this game at Derby, expect manager Jose Mourinho to make more changes. He said that every player would get a rest in December, given the number of fixtures they have to play. Most have already been given a break, but expect to see a few of the fringe players come in. With the next game after the League Cup tie being next Monday’s visit to Stoke, there’s a long enough break for a few first teamers to start.

Petr Cech had to come in against Hull after Thibaut Courtois picked up a muscle injury, and Cech will probably keep his place for the trip to Derby. In defence Gary Cahill is likely to sit out, with Kurt Zouma coming in. Expect Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta to start in the full back positions.

Given that Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas have been given breaks in recent weeks through suspension, they could be in line to play this week. Fabregas missed the game against Hull on Saturday, so don’t be surprised to see him come in. Another man who may make an appearance is Ramires, as he’s had few starting opportunities in recent weeks.

Further forward, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian got a rest in the game at home to Sporting last week, but don’t expect all of them to feature here. Mourinho praised Mohammed Salah in his press conference before the Hull game, while Andre Schurrle was impressive in his last start. Oscar could start alongside them, as Mourinho tends to play him in the cup games.

Finally, up front is once again a hard one to call. Many had expected Costa to be given a rest last week against Sporting, but he started. You’d think if he was fine for a meaningless Champions League game that he could start here, but Mourinho may rest him for the game at Stoke. Both Drogba and Remy have looked good of late, so you’d be confident here with any of them starting.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-1