Chelsea facing lower league opposition in Cup matches overwhelmingly tends to have just one outcome, and that’s the outcome that will once again be expected tonight at Stamford Bridge as mid-table Championship side Nottingham Forest come to town. It will be just the third meeting between the two since Forest’s relegation from the Premier League in 1999 — both of those meetings were in the FA Cup, both at home, with Chelsea keeping clean sheets in victories of 2-0 (2000) and 3-0 (2007).
The two clubs have slightly more shared history than that — and not just in terms of famous former loanees like John Terry, Ryan Bertrand, and Nathaniel Chalobah. Forest are actually in the Chelsea record books as the proud owners of Chelsea’s biggest defeat, a 7-0 reverse at the City Ground in 1991 (Chelsea also lost 7-0 to Leeds back in 1967 and 8-1 to Wolves in 1953). Forest were a rather different team back then, still managed by the legendary Brian Clough and featuring the likes of Stuart Pearce, Des Walker, Nigel Clough, and a young Roy Keane. At the time, Forest were still one of the biggest names in English football, and one that carried weight even on the continent (they did win two European Cups, after all).
“We are talking about a great club and a great history in England. I remember that in the past Nottingham Forest played also in the Champions League and is one of the most important clubs in England.
“We have a great respect for them and for this reason, we have to pay great attention tomorrow. Don't forget, in the last game they beat Newcastle. I watched a lot of games and they play good football. We must pay great attention tomorrow because, I repeat, we want to go into the next round but I am sure, also, that Nottingham Forest wants the same.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Nottingham Post
As always, Chelsea will have to “pay great attention”.
Date / Time: Wednesday, September 20, 19:45 BST; 2:45pm EDT; 12:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Chris Kavanagh — The 32-year-old is a Select Group rookie who has a grand total of two Premier League games under his belt. This will be his first Chelsea game (and sixth Forest game, who failed to win any of the previous five).
Forecast: Dry and not all that cold.
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); none (India); elsewhere (basically beIN Arabia or Kwesé)
Streaming online: ESPN3 (USA); BBC Radio (UK radio); ChelseaTV (int’l radio)
Chelsea team news: Danny Drinkwater and Pedro are out due to injury (calf and ankle, respectively) and David Luiz is suspended, while most of the rest of the big names will be rotated out. But not Eden Hazard, who’s set to make his first start of the season after recovering from his broken ankle suffered back at the start of the summer.
Conte has also essentially confirmed starts for Charly Musonda Jr (first ever for Chelsea) and Kenedy (first of the season), while youngsters Jake Clarke-Salter, Dujon Sterling, and even Ethan Ampadu are expected to be on the bench (no word on Kyle Scott yet).
Preferred lineup: The lineup that most, including WAGNH at large seem to be preferring should be more than enough to win this one.
Caballero (86%) | Cahill (52%), Christensen (93%), Rudiger (89%) | Kenedy (80%), Fabregas (54%), Bakayoko (92%), Zappacosta (96%) | Hazard (88%), Batshuayi (93%), Musonda Jr (94%)
Nottingham Forest team news: After a decent start to the season, Forest have lost three of their last four in the Championship and currently sit 10th with four wins and four losses after eight games. In the League Cup so far they dispatched
Shrewsbury Strawberry Town in the first round and upset Newcastle United at St James’ Park in the second. Should Forest pull off a similar upset, we might see the return of the silly A-B-B-A penalty kick shootout format, unless they win it again in the 30-minute extra-time period that would follow a draw in regulation.
Manager Mark Warburton, formerly of Brentford and Rangers, will be able to call on former Chelsea trainees Michael Mancienne and Liam Bridcutt, though he’s also expected to rotate his squad in favor of his league commitments. Veteran striker Daryl Murphy, most recently of Newcastle and Ipswich is their current leading scorer.
View from the enemy: Sadly, SB Nation’s Forest blog, In the Top One signed off for good last summer. ChelseaTV match commentator Matt Davies is a Forest fan however, and you can listen to his brief interview with the BBC here.
Previously: Highlights of Forest’s 7-0 win are actually up on YouTube. Goal of the Day! Throwback.