Having met just three times in nearly three-quarters of a century — despite being separated by barely a handful of miles — Chelsea and Brentford meet for the second time in two months today, in the quarterfinals of the League Cup. Safe to say, even if our previous meetings weren’t so rare, this one would be a most unique occasion thanks to the pandemic-decimated squads on either side. As things stand right now however, it looks like we will be able to fulfill the fixture.
Regardless of circumstance, Chelsea will of course be looking to win and progress to the semifinals of this competition for the first time since 2017-18. Thomas Tuchel lamented the fact that he cannot prioritize that goal however, but we do have to look out for player welfare, fitness, and health first and foremost (especially when the governing bodies only do so in talk, not action).
Date / Time: December 22, 2021, 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Brentford Community Stadium, London, England
Referee: Peter Bankes; no VAR
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); none? (India); SuperSport Football (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none (UK); ESPN+ (USA); Voot? (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Brentford team news: The Bees last played twelve days ago while dealing with a COVID outbreak. But they look set to field a strong lineup as they look to take advantage of this “big opportunity” to reach the semifinals. They already played us very tough in the first meeting, and that was against a full strength Chelsea side, who eked out the 1-0 win by hanging on to dear life in the final 15-20 minutes.
Among the returnees from isolation is striker Ivan Toney, while Mathias “Zanka” Jorgensen is close to returning from a hamstring injury. Kristoffer Ajer and David Raya remain out and join long-term injury absentees Julian Jeanvier and Joshua Dasilva.
Before this enforced mini-break, Brentford had won two out of their last five, losing just once, to move up to a solid midtable position in the Premier League. In the Carabao Cup, they had beaten Forest Green (3-1), Oldham Athletic (7-0), and Stoke City (2-1) to get this far.
Chelsea team news: The Blues have upwards of a dozen first-team players either injured, in isolation, in overload, or all of the above, so the strong expectation is of an Academy Day, with 12-15 players called in to training from the youth and reserves over the past couple days for Tuchel to take a look at up close and personal. And we might be seeing first-team debuts for the likes of Xavier Mbuyamba or Harvey Vale, for example.
Unfortunately, Lewis Baker, who was also in line to start his first ever Chelsea game (and make his second Chelsea appearance after a 3-minute cameo in the FA Cup third round back in January 2014), has been ruled out due to a positive test.
Also not playing will be his fellow isolators Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Ben Chilwell. Joining them wrapped in cotton wool will be N’Golo Kanté and Mateo Kovačić, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Hakim Ziyech, Andreas Christensen, and Trevoh Chalobah are all dealing with various knocks.
Previously: As hard fought as any 1-0 win has any right to be. Chilwell scored the game’s only goal while we somehow survived the onslaught at the end.