This season’s League Cup adventure begins today, as we take on Premier League opposition in the third round. Both teams are expected to rotate heavily.
Last year, our journey ended quite early thanks to a penalty shootout against Spurs in the fourth round. The previous year, our campaign also ended in the fourth. In fact, in the last seven editions, we’ve either made the final-four (1 final win, 1 final loss, 1 semifinal defeat) or we lost in round-four (Spurs, Man Utd, West Ham, Stoke). Only twice in the Abramovich Era have we failed to advance past the third round.
It’s a low(er) priority competition and thus a welcome respite from the intensity of the Premier and Champions Leagues. But we’re in it, so we’re in it to win it.
Date / Time: Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 19.45 BST; 2:45pm EDT; 12:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Graham Scott (on pitch) — VAR will also be used
Forecast: Warm sunshiny day, mild night
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); none? (India); SuperSport PSL (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none — radio coverage on talkSport 2 & Chelsea TV (UK); ESPN+ (USA); JioTV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Thomas Tuchel stopped short of revealing his team selection in the pre-match press conference, but made it fairly obvious that we’ll be seeing minutes for Timo Werner, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Saúl Ñíguez, and many other players not heavily involved in the fixtures played so far this season. That’s likely to include players like Ben Chilwell, Ross Barkley, Malang Sarr, and maybe even third goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
Christian Pulisic and Édouard Mendy are the only two expected injury absentees, though others like Marcos Alonso, Antonio Rüdiger, Romelu Lukaku, and Mateo Kovačić have more than earned a well-deserved rest, which they will hopefully get. N’Golo Kanté, having just recently returned from an ankle injury, will presumably just spend the day wrapped in bubble wrap instead.
Aston Villa team news: Villa beat Everton, 3-0, at the weekend, but like Chelsea, will be expected to rotate, especially after losing John McGinn to a concussion and with Leon Bailey picking up a potential thigh strain after just 20 minutes on the pitch — the 20 minutes that won the game for Villa.
This is actually Villa’s second game in the League Cup already since they did not qualify for any of this season’s European competitions. They summarily dismissed fourth division Barrow, 6-0 in the second round last month. Cameron Archer, 19, scored a hat-trick in what his full debut for the club (one of three Academy youth making their full debuts for them that day in fact).
View from the enemy: 7500 to Holte
Previously: Chelsea have yet to lose a game this season, and that includes our 3-0 win over Villa in the league a couple weeks ago. That scoreline looks better than the football itself might have warranted, but we were clinical when it mattered, at either end.