All anyone’s been talking about since Monday night’s 3-0 win over West Bromwich Albion has been the upcoming match against Barcelona in the Champions League Round of 16, but before all that drama on Tuesday, we do have to take on Hull City under the Friday Night Lights at Stamford Bridge.
That does make this a bit of a trap game, especially if the Magic of the FA Cup decides to magic its way into the narrative (a bit like it did for Bradford City a few years ago when Chelsea ended up winning both the league and the League Cup), but it does also mean that it’s a good chance to rest and rotate the squad. While it’s also important to regain some of the confidence lost during Chelsea’s recent struggles, there’s no substitute for proper rest and recovery — and even preparation, since Conte will have had a full week between West Brom and Barcelona to prepare the troops.
So, in any case, trap game or freebie or opportunity — regardless of what we call it, Chelsea have a great chance to advance to the FA Cup quarterfinals against the second division strugglers.
Antonio Conte has already confirmed starts for Emerson Palmieri and Ethan Ampadu, while also confirming that Olivier Giroud should be available despite a heavy dose of kicking received from the Baggies. Young Dujon Sterling played yesterday against Spurs in the FA Youth Cup, but perhaps tellingly, Callum Hudson-Odoi was not. Tiemoue Bakayoko will be back from his suspension, but there’s no news of Ross Barkley, who’s likely still out with his hamstring issue.