"Maybe we have two Zorros tomorrow!" The comment refers to Nemanja Matic and César Azpilicueta, both of whom are currently wearing protective masks thanks to various facial injuries they've picked up. And that was the extent of manager Guus Hiddink's hints as to what sort of lineup we should be expecting on Sunday afternoon against the League One visitors to Stamford Bridge. I suppose he also made a cryptic hint about youth, but I'm not sure how much bearing, if any, that will have on the proceedings.
If we look back to 2009, Hiddink's lineups for our ultimately successful run to the FA Cup trophy hardly differed from his lineup choices in the Premier League. Granted, back then he only took over once Chelsea had reached the fifth round, so perhaps the occasion of the earlier round this time around, plus what should be an "easy" opponent will result in a few risks taken. Hiddink did speak of the great importance he places on this competition, so again, I would not expect a tremendous amount of rotation. Even though Chelsea do have two more games coming up in less than a week.
Having said that, I would hope to see at least the likes of Asmir Begovic and Baba Rahman get fresh run-outs, while it would be fantastic to see the three youngsters who have been training with the first-team the whole season get a chance as well (and not just from the bench). I'm not sure I can truly expect them all to play, but I remain hopeful:
Begovic | Baba, Cahill (if fit), Zouma, Azpilicueta | Matic, Loftus-Cheek | Kenedy, Oscar, Willian | Traoré
(On the question of Patrick Bamford, I expect him to head out on loan again, which precludes him from taking part in this one.) Meanwhile, the community's choice:
Begovic | Baba, Cahill, Zouma, Azpilicueta | Loftus-Cheek, Ramires | Kenedy, Pedro, Traoré | Bamford
Both lineups look far too adventurous upon further examination. I'm fairly certain we'll end up lining up in a much more usual arrangement. However, until then, it's fun to pretend like we're not.