Chelsea FC versus Chesterfield FC. CFC vs CFC. A matchup as old as time itself, or at least as old as Chelsea. Chesterfield were the first team not named Chelsea to win a game at Stamford Bridge, back in October 1905. If they were to pull off a similar feat in 2022, it might just break football.
The Spireites come in as the National League leaders, which means they’re top of the pile in non-league football at the moment (and have lost just once all season). We haven’t played non-league opposition at the Bridge since the first round of the 1914-15 FA Cup, and have only faced one non-league team since, Scarborough away in the FA Cup fourth round in 2003-04. That game only finished 1-0 to us, which only underlines Tuchel’s pre-match comments of taking this seriously indeed.
Date / Time: Saturday, January 8, 2022, 17.30 GMT; 12:30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Jarred Gillett (on pitch), John Brooks (VAR) — Gillett has served as VAR a couple times for Chelsea matches, including on Wednesday, but this is his first actual refereeing assignment for us. He became the first referee not from the British Isles to referee a Premier League match earlier this season. (He came over from Australia a few years ago, where he was regarded as the best referee.)
On TV: BBC Red Button (UK); none (USA); Sony TEN2 (India); SuperSport MaXimo 1 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BBC iPlayer (UK); ESPN+ (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Coming between games against Spurs (twice), Liverpool, and Manchester City, this might be the ultimate trap game. Combined with the EFL Trophy Round of 16 match on Tuesday for Chelsea U21, the involvement of the Academy may not be as great as we might have expected otherwise against non-league opposition.
Still, Tuchel’s likely to rest and rotate — especially those overloaded or carrying nagging injuries — and also give minutes where needed or necessary. He’s practically confirmed a start for Timo Werner already, for example, while third goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli has fronted Chelsea’s social media posts for this game. Youngsters Lewis Hall, Harvey Vale, Charlie Webster, and Lewis Baker has also been spotted in training over the past couple days.
Kai Havertz (broken finger) and César Azpilicueta (cramps) are doubtful at best, while Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James, and Ben Chilwell are out. N’Golo Kanté and Thiago Silva remain in isolation, but are reportedly doing well. In more good news, Andreas Christensen has returned to training from injury and Ruben Loftus-Cheek looks to be back healthy and fit as well.
Chesterfield team news: This Chesterfield is technically not the same Chesterfield who came to the Bridge in 1905, with the team having re-formed in 1919, but they have enjoyed a solid existence since, playing mostly third- and fourth-tier football before their relegation out of League Two and into the non-league in 2018.
They’re currently managed by James Rowe, who was once an assistant at Aldershot Town, who used to host Academy and Reserves matches for Chelsea. Striker Kabongo Tshimanga, with 19 goals in 22 games this season is perhaps their biggest dangerman.
On an interesting note, Chesterfield once almost contested an FA Cup FINAL against Chelsea, back in 1997. The Spireites, then in the third tier, made it all the way to the semifinals, where they forced a replay with a 3-3 draw against Middlesbrough — Sean Dyche (yes, that Sean Dyche) scoring one of the three for Chesterfield from the penalty spot — before losing the replay, 3-0. Boro would then go on to lose to Chelsea in the final, 2-0, with Robbie Di Matteo scoring his famous goal in the first minute and Eddie Newton making sure of things late on.
Incidentally, there are no replays in this year’s competition, with extra-time and penalties to follow if necessary.
Previously: This is the eighth meeting all-time between the sides, and the first since 1950, when we won 3-0 in an FA Cup fifth round replay. The aforementioned 1-0 in our last (and only) match against non-league opposition since World War I was decided by a 10th-minute John Terry goal, despite featuring plenty of big and familiar names (and also Alexis Nicolas).