The last time a club legend was in charge and Chelsea had to deal with a League Cup fourth round test in the shape of Manchester United, we ended up with a modern classic.
It was Halloween, the 31st of October, in the grand year of 2012, and Roberto Di Matteo was still in charge, as Chelsea entertained Stamford Bridge on a Wednesday night with a spookily hilarious 5-4 extra-time win. Di Matteo would unfortunately not get to see the quarterfinal, a 5-1 win over Leeds United, nor the semifinal, wherein Chelsea contrived to lose to Swansea City over two legs and Eden Hazard may or may not have kicked a ball-lad.
Hopefully this time, things will be slightly less dramatic, and the only thing we’re talking about afterwards is an eighth straight victory for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. (Incidentally, Lampard did not play in the 5-4 on account of injury.)
Date / Time: Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 20.05 GMT, 4:05pm EDT; 1:35am IST (next day) — note that Daylight Savings has ended in Europe/UK but not yet in the USA, so the time difference is one hour less
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Paul Tierney — one of the newer referees on the scene, this will be Tierney’s fifth Chelsea match, all in the last two seasons. We’re 4-0 in his previous four games, all in the league, including the 4-1 win over Southampton at St Mary’s at the start of this month.
Forecast: Cooling down; winter is coming
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); none? (India); SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky GO (UK); ESPN+ (USA); JioTV? (India); DStv Now (NGA); Chelsea TV (audio commentary only — int’l) — we have an affiliate link you can use to sign up for ESPN+, if you so choose, as well, which means we (SB Nation) get some minuscule percentage of commission or some such. On a personal note, ESPN+ is one of the best values in streaming and is only going to get better when it gets bundled with Hulu and Disney+. Yes, Disney are like Mr.Universe these days. Can’t stop the signal!
Chelsea team news: Chelsea’s youth revolution began in the worst possible circumstances, with injuries galore and a shameful 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford. The scoreline did not reflect the balance of play by any means, but it was hard to look beyond it. Fast forward nearly three months, and Chelsea are sitting pretty in fourth, while Manchester United have been on the brink of crisis for some time. But just as quickly as Chelsea changed the narrative, the narrative can put its thing down, flip it, and reverse it, faster than you can Google Missy Elliot.
One thing that hasn’t changed is Chelsea’s lengthy list of injured, which currently counts N’Golo Kanté, Antonio Rüdiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek among its members for sure, and possibly both Andreas Christensen and Ross Barkley as well. Even without the injuries, mass rotation will have been expected, and the next group of youth stars like Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin, Ian Maatsen, and Marc Guehi are likely to be involved on some level.
Manchester United team news: United needed penalties to scrape by Rochdale in the previous round, but have won back-to-back games (both away) after a very credible 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford. In Sunday’s 3-1 win over Norwich City, they even scored more than 1 goal for the first time since the aforementioned 4-0 win over Chelsea!
Like Chelsea, United will be expected to rotate to (more) youth and the backups, while dealing with several long-term injuries. Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, and Diogo Dalot are all out until at least December, while Nemanja Matić, Luke Shaw, and Axel Tuanzebe are not expected to take part either.
Previously: The 5-4 win mentioned at the top featured no fewer than three (3!) comebacks by Chelsea, before taking the lead through Daniel Sturridge and adding the necessary insurance from Ramires as Eden Hazard ran riot.