Our first meeting in eleven years against Blackburn Rovers arrives in the fourth round of this year’s League Cup competition. Fun fact: the last time we played them was our last ever match without being Champions of Europe.
The fourth round of the League Cup may lack the cachet of a Champions League final, but as the old cliche goes, your most important match is the next one. Mauricio Pochettino certainly subscribes to that idea, and is expected to name a strong, if not entirely first-choice lineup.
So, I guess we better win.
Date / Time: Wednesday, November 1, 2023, 19:45 GMT; 3:45pm EDT; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Tim Robinson (no VAR) — this is already the third (!) Chelsea match this season for (relatively) rookie referee Robinson; after the league games against Nottingham Forest (H) and Fulham (A)
Forecast: thunderstorms expected to have passed
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); none? (India); none (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none (UK); ESPN+ (USA); none? (India); SuperSport GOtv (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Club captain Reece James is set to start for the first time since the very first game of the season, having (hopefully fully) recovered from his hamstring injury. Fellow defender Benoît Badiashile could also be in line for an appearance, which would be his first of the season. Enzo Fernández should be back as well, after a rare absence over the weekend.
Of course it cannot be all good news on the injury front, with Mykhailo Mudryk set to miss out once again, alongside the usual absentees (Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell, Christopher Nkunku, Carney Chukwuemeka, Armando Broja, Roméo Lavia, and Trevoh Chalobah).
Blackburn Rovers team news: Rovers were relegated at the end of that 2012 season, and would be relegated to the third tier five years later, though would bounce back immediately. They’ve remained in the second tier since, just missing out on the promotion playoffs last season.
They got off to a rather mixed start this year, winning just three of their first ten league games. But they rattled off three wins in a row on either side of the previous international break, to solidify their midtable position — despite having one of the worst defenses of the division.
I’ve been trying to figure out why Sam Szmodics seems like a familiar name, but I guess it’s just his Hungarian ancestry that has him lodged in some random corner of my brain. In any case, Rovers’ leading goalscorer has not made the trip down to London and will not feature in the game. The visitors seem to be focusing on the league more so than this Cup, which is fair enough (and puts even less pressure on them, thus creating the ideal circumstance for a famous upset).
Manager Jon Dahl Tomasson will have his team ready to take advantage of any carelessness on our part.
“Football is a lot of things and maybe they’ll be less motivated, the players they put out there, whilst we can do all the right things to make it a tough day at the office for Chelsea.
“To have a good chance of winning, it’s about doing the right things on the ball and off the ball. We need to be brave on the ball and defend with discipline, find that mix of both things. At the same time, we shouldn’t forget to enjoy it.”
-Jon Dahl Tomasson; source: Blackburn Rovers FC
Previously: We’re unbeaten in our last five against Rovers, winning four on the bounce. The last time we lost to them was in the League Cup however, in the 2009-10 edition, when they beat us on penalties after a 3-3 draw in regulation (including extra-time, which we no longer play in this competition). Our last match, the 2-1 win mentioned at the top, featured goals from John Terry and Raúl Meireles, and a first Premier League start for one Romelu Lukaku. BEHOLD the 240p: