There are almost as many places between Chelsea and Chesterfield as there are teams in the top four professional divisions in English football — we are second in the Premier League; Chesterfield are top of the National League (fifth tier) — and were they to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup instead of us, it would be surely one of the greatest upsets in the history of the competition.
Thomas Tuchel’s looking to avoid making any such history, and is treating tomorrow’s game at Stamford Bridge with the amount of respect any one of our fixtures deserves.
“We can lose any game in football. That’s why the game is so popular. You will never hear me say we can’t lose before a game. This would be hugely arrogant. This is not the attitude with which we want to approach the game tomorrow.
“Of course [...] yes, we are the huge favourites. We want to win and we demand it from ourselves. Still, we respect the game and the opponent. You can demand it from yourself but if you think it through, you need a performance to deliver.
“We need to be ready, have a strong squad, a squad that’s ready to enjoy these minutes because if you want to reach the next round. You need to win and this is as boring as it is but it is like this. [...] If we want to go to Wembley [again in the end], we need to win tomorrow.
“[We] have enough to work on and improve and show to prove ourselves tomorrow on the pitch. This is what it is about. Don’t judge the opponent or importance of the game, just go and do our thing. This is what we demand and what I demand from myself and my players.”
That said, Tuchel will be looking to rest and rotate where appropriate. Hopefully that will still leave a few opportunities for a few youngsters to get involved as well.
“We have to find the balance because we also want to be reliable, be fair to the guys who play after injuries and Covid. I think we have five substitutions which give us a lot of options, which is good.
“Of course, we want to use the match to get some minutes into the guys who desperately need it and want it. Like Timo (Werner) for example. [...] Then we will find a strong line-up and show all the respect to the team and club of Chesterfield. It is the FA Cup and if we want to go to the next round we have to win this match. Nothing else.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Last time Chelsea played non-league opposition, it was a tenth-minute John Terry header that proved to be the game’s only goal. While that 2003-04 FA Cup third round contest against Scarborough wasn’t at Stamford Bridge, it should serve to underline Tuchel’s cautionary words about taking this match seriously.