In the nearly 150-year history of the football world’s oldest knockout competition, there have surely been a few repeat matchups year-on-year. But probably not many, I’d guess. That makes Chelsea’s back-to-back third round home games against Nottingham Forest a rather rare event, probably — though I haven’t seen much made of this statistical outlier, so perhaps it’s not as unusual as I believe it to be.
The Blues entered last season’s edition with plenty of home discomforts — Sarri-ball was not a popular choice — but pulled off a straightforward 2-0 victory over Forest with the final two Chelsea goals for Álvaro Morata, in the final Chelsea game for Cesc Fàbregas, and in what proved to be the first game of Callum Hudson-Odoi season.
Something similar would do nicely.
Date / Time: Sunday, January 5, 14.01 GMT; 9.01am EST; 7.31pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Peter Bankes — Bankes was one of the two referees promoted to the Select Group at the start of the season, though he’s yet to take charge of a Chelsea match in the Premier League. Incidentally, the other referee promoted, Andy Madley, took charge of this fixture last season.
Forecast: Seasonably cool
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); none? (India); SuperSport 3, SuperSport 10 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: ESPN+ (USA); DStv Now (NGA); Chelsea TV (audio commentay only — int’l) — We (WAGNH) have an affiliate link for ESPN+ if you’re in the US and would like to sign up for the best value in sports streaming (or, if you’re like me, sign up for the Disney-Hulu-ESPN+ bundle).
HEADS UP: All FA Cup matches this weekend are delayed one minute prior to kick-off to raise awareness about mental health and the importance of talking about mental health. It’s a joint campaign from the FA and Heads Together. Take care of yourselves.
Chelsea team news: After a grueling stretch of games over the holiday period, rest and rotation is expected, though perhaps not a full eleven as the Blues look to steady an atrocious home form that has seen us lose 3 of 5 in all competitions (and 3 of 4 in the league).
Marcos Alonso and Fikayo Tomori have joined long-term injury victims Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marco van Ginkel in the treatment room. But all the rest, including recently absent Olivier Giroud should be available as Lampard tries to find the winning formula while handing out overdue rests and overdue minutes as needed.
In this early round, there are still replays, so let’s not add to an already busy schedule. VAR will be in use, unlike last year.
Nottingham Forest team news: Forest have been steadily improving in the last couple seasons, and currently find themselves fourth in the Championship and pushing for promotion. New manager Sabri Lamouchi, the former France international midfielder, even won Manager of the Month for September. Championship-star Lewis Grabban leads the line, and is one of the division’s top scorers with 14 to his name.
Given the team’s focus on the league campaign, Lamouchi is expected to rotate heavily and will be hoping to give minutes to young players and players returning from injury, such Carl Jenkinson, Yohan Benalouane and Michael Hefele.
Previously: This will be the third straight season that we’ve faced Forest in a cup game, winning 5-1 in the 2017-18 League Cup third round and 2-0 in the 2019-20 FA Cup third round. Here are the highlights of the latter.