One of the beautiful things about the FA Cup is the opportunity to play teams we might not play very often (or perhaps ever). Preston North End aren’t exactly new opposition. We’ve played them 70 times. But only 8 of those have occured in the last 60 years.
(I believe the last time we faced never before seen opposition from England was in 2020, when we were drawn against Morecambe FC in this same round of the FA Cup.)
But hopefully that’s about all the magic we’ll get from this cup match, with Chelsea looking for our third win in a row in all competitions, and fourth in our last five.
Date / Time: Saturday, January 6, 2024, 17.30 GMT; 12:30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Thomas Bramall (on pitch); Tony Harrington (VAR)
Forecast: cold and rainy
On TV: BBC Red Button (UK); none (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BBC iPlayer (UK); ESPN+ (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: The Blues continue to deal with a multitude of injuries, and now we’ll also be without Nicolas Jackson for the next month as he’s away at the Africa Cup of Nations. Armando Broja is the likely beneficiary of those minutes as things stand, especially as we continue to manage Christopher Nkunku’s minutes.
Ben Chilwell and Carney Chukwuemeka have returned to training this week, but this game will come too soon for them. Everyone else who’s been out, remains out, and thus will limit our options for squad rotation.
Preston team news: Preston started the season in fantastic form, winning six of their first seven games to sit atop the Championship in mid-September. They’ve yet to win six games since, have lost four of their last five. The Championship is a crowded division so they still sit comfortably midtable, but their form has been akin to relegation form over the past three months.
All that could of course change quickly again, especially with a bit of giant-killing in the Cup.
“You have to believe you’re going there to perform. We know the gulf in quality is massive, but we’ve got to be a little bit proud and see what they can give us and go toe to toe.
“There’s going to be certain elements of the game where we can’t do that but [we have to] enjoy the moment. Enjoy being up against top-quality international, world-class footballers. That’s my message to the players.
“We’ll put the gameplan together collectively and all the families are going to be there. A lot of our fans are going to be there, so I want them to remember these days because they can go in the memory bank – not just for the players but for the fans also.”
-Ryan Lowe, manager; source: PNE FC
Preston will welcome back former Republic of Ireland international Robbie Brady, who had missed the last couple weeks with injury. His international teammate and former Manchester United FA Youth Cup-winner Will Keane, who won the League One Golden Boot two years ago, leads the team in scoring with six, with Canada’s Liam Millar and the USA’s Duane Holmes providing the creative spark behind him. Towering center back Liam Lindsey has chipped in with three goals as well, though Preston have barely averaged over a goal per game, while giving up the fourth most goals in the Championship.
Previously: The last time we played Preston was in the fourth round of this competition, back in 2009-10. That just slightly predates this here blog. It was a “sickeningly professional” 2-0 victory in the Chelsea Cup, as per The Guardian. Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge scored on either side of half-time for Carlo Ancelotti’s rampant Double-winning side.