Chelsea play Manchester City for the third time this season and the second time in four days, and in a third different competition, which seems particularly cruel from the scheduling gods in a season where we’re nowhere near their level. Have any team been eliminated at the first hurdle from both domestic cups by the same team?
In fairness, we actually played fairly well against City in the first two meetings, but both of those games played out in similar fashion: Chelsea unable to take advantage of opportunities created before the inevitable quality of City shone through with a goal or two in the second half. So, step one tomorrow will be to actually try to score a goal, which is something we haven’t done since Kai Havertz in the 2021 Champions League final.
Step two will be to see more minutes for players who might inspire some goodwill from the fans, and who might be the cornerstones to our long-term rebuilding plans.
And Sunday now presents an interesting potential fork in the road for the team. Part of the reason tonight's defeat felt less frustrating was the way the younger players finished the match. There needs to be light at the end of the tunnel if you're going to suffer a while.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) January 5, 2023
Date / Time: Sunday, January 8, 2023, 16.30 GMT; 11:30am EST; 10pm IST
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Referee: Robert Jones (on pitch); John Brooks (VAR)
Forecast: cold, rainy
On TV: BBC One (UK); none (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BBC iPlayer (UK); ESPN+ (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv now (NGA)
Manchester City team news: City’s win on Thursday was their fourth in five and eighth in ten in all competitions — a run that does include a defeat to Brentford, which remains their only home defeat in any competition this season.
But they are going strong in the League, the League Cup, and of course the Champions League, so the FA Cup may be a lower priority for them. While Pep Guardiola has insisted that he will approach the game “like it’s the last game of our lives”, as usual, he’s expected to at least rotate his squad — which he can afford to since they barely have any injuries. So we can probably expect Julian Álvarez instead of Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips instead of Rodri — you know, two World Cup-quality players (including a winner with Argentina) to underscore what proper depth looks like at the top level.
Chelsea team news: Meanwhile, at Chelsea, we are now into double-digits in terms of first-team injuries with Raheem Sterling (hamstring), Christian Pulisic (knee), and Mason Mount (knock) joining the ranks of the walking dead alongside Reece James (knee), N’Golo Kanté (hamstring), Ben Chilwell (hamstring), Wesley Fofana (knee), Édouard Mendy (shoulder and, now, finger, too), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (calf), and Armando Broja (ACL).
Manager Graham Potter has not been using these injuries as an excuse for our terrible run of results — six points and one win from eight games — in some ways our worst run in the league in the 21st century, but has certainly mentioned them at every turn. We were in the final of this competition last season, but that seems like a million years away.
The play of youngsters Carney Chukwuemeka, Lewis Hall, and Omari Hutchinson has generated some positive vibes however, and hopefully we see more action for them (and more of them in action) in this one.
Previously: A “spirited” performance.